The retail landscape: who are the main players?
The most well-known large retailers are Carrefour, Leclerc and Auchan. As of 2018 and according to their website, Carrefour has 247 hypermarkets in France, according to the newspaper La Croix. Leclerc has 541 as of this year too and Auchan had 260 in 2016 according to Statista.
Carrefour have been the pioneer regarding the introduction of organic and healthier products. They recognized the opportunity and decided to launch in 2013 their own label “Carrefour Bio” which offers a wide range of interesting products for the French customers.
In the meantime, they have also launched “Carrefour bio” stores with 4,000 product lines available in 19 stores (mostly in the Paris region). This offers the possibility for customers to do their shopping in a shop exclusively dedicated to organic products
Leclerc and Auchan want also to be part of the success. Indeed, Auchan launched in 2012 their own organic stores “Coeur de Nature” in order to make the breakthrough into this competitive market. However, they only opened 2 stores and the results were not as successful as expected. Eventually, the company launched “Auchan bio”, the first store opened on November 2017 and they are confident in opening more in the coming months.
Obviously, the retailers are willing to open more organic stores but they are still seeing how the land lies at the moment.
If you are used to distribute your products through large retailers in the UK, then you should definitely consider the ones mentioned here to reach the French market.
- Discount supermarket chains
Chains such as Lidl and their 1500 stores or even Aldi with their 900 stores in France have entered the market and offer wide ranges of organic and healthy products.
Lidl and Aldi would be a natural progression for your brand in France if you distribute your products through discount channels in the UK.
Some channels in France have dedicated their entire business to healthy products and are very successful. Among these:
– Biocoop (431 outlets as of January 2017)
– La Vie Claire (339 outlets as of May 1st 2018)
– Naturalia (400 outlets as of 2016)
– Naturéo (56 outlets as of 2018)
All of them show quite impressive results and are constantly opening new shops as the demand is continually growing. Indeed, the fact that the French are now a bit suspicious towards large retailers and mass-produced products have obviously favoured the emergence and the development of the specialised channels (Biocoop opened 40 outlets in 2016 and now have over 400 outlets at present for example). La Vie Claire projects to open 8 franchises for this quarter which highlights the great future ahead for these specialist channels.
You should definitely consider specialist channels if you offer organic and high quality products!
- Gourmet and premium channels
The mystique of French gourmet cuisine is undeniable. The French cuisine wants to be assimilated with sophistication, refinement, fineness and elegance. From the famous foie gras to cheeses and escargots, France’s gastronomy is truly traditional and unique. What the French love is good food and therefore the French are these kinds of customers willing to pay more if the products are of higher quality and to their liking. The French are “bon vivant”, they love eating good food and drinking good wine. It can seem stereotypical, but this is actually true! Premium and gourmet products are therefore unsurprisingly very trendy products. Some stores are specialised in the distribution of these products such as the famous Galeries Lafayette and La Grande Epicerie de Paris.
These stores are mostly visited by the well off, however for the special occasions such as Christmas or even just when you want to offer a premium product to someone (offering food is something really common and appreciated in France), these stores are visited by everybody.
The competition between all of these players in this channel is becoming stiffer and this is expected to continue over the forecast period. Thanks to their power in the business, large retailers benefit from the best possibility to offer to the French customers to possibility to access to health and wellness products. Moreover, thanks to their loyalty programmes, they are able to understand more the needs of the customers and adapt their offer. However, at the moment, the specialist chains remain the leaders in this market.
The Gourmet chains are a distribution channel you definitely have to consider if you have a high end premium product and you want to enter the French market.