Variety stores remained under duress in 2018 overall, with distinctly divergent fortunes across the channel. The performance of the category continued to be affected by the sale by traditional domestic player Blokker Nederland BV of most of its brands in 2017.
Besides external factors, one of the major reasons for the struggles endured by the mid-segment in mixed retailers was the failure of mid-level players to properly differentiate themselves from the increasing competition and threat posed by discount mixed retailers. In 2018, the two most important players in that segment were Action and Big Bazar.
As further confirmation of increasing polarisation and the hollowing-out of the traditional mid-segment in variety stores in the Netherlands, niche players that offer consumers products that are perceived as distinctive or of higher quality were also successful. The prime example is Flying Tiger Copenhagen, a Denmark-based variety store chain that established a presence in the Netherlands over the past decade and recently expanded further thanks to a carefully executed franchising model.
Action Non-food BV remained the leading player in 2018, thanks to the popularity of its economy brand Action. One of the most successful domestic retail players, over the past decade the company expanded to neighbouring Western European markets, such as Germany, France and Belgium.
Blokker Nederland BV remained in second place behind Action Non-food BV in variety stores in 2018, despite the sale of most of its brands in 2018. The company’s aim is to adjust the strategy for its core Blokker brand by further reducing the number of outlets and focusing on the successful ones.
In 2017, the Wibra brand, owned by Wibra Holding BV, became another example of a long-established domestic variety store chain that ceased operations, as its lack of differentiation failed to convince Dutch consumers.
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