You leaf through Dirk’s folder, on paper or online, and after the offers of different types of cheese and before the offers of smoothies and organic dairy, you come across something completely different. Your supermarket says it is looking for retail space and is calling for your help.
Dirk is roughly looking for suitable locations for new branches in the area between Purmerend, Haarlem, Amersfoort and Breda, which is roughly the area where it is currently active. Dirk has neatly listed the other important location criteria for consumers who want to help.
‘Looking where fans are’
“It is the first time that we do this like this”, says Marcel Huizing, general manager of Dirk. According to him, it is ‘quite challenging’ to find good locations. An additional advantage is that by engaging consumers, Dirk ‘immediately finds out in which areas many of our fans are located’, admits Huizing.
It is also somewhat appropriate in this day and age to build a kind of community to help find customers, adds Dirk Mulder, who focuses on retail at ING Bank, among other things.
‘More red, not just blue and yellow’
“There should be a little more red on the street, and not just blue and yellow,” says Huizing, referring to the house colors of Dirk on the one hand and Albert Heijn and Jumbo on the other.
Appie and Jumbo have a market share of about 36 percent and 21.5 percent respectively, and together they account for more than half of the supermarket turnover in the Netherlands.
Dirk had a market share of 3.6 percent in the Netherlands in 2020. Real estate parties also come to us, but even earlier to Albert Heijn and Jumbo, says Huizing.
One person or a whole team?
According to Huizing, there is now only one other person with Dirk, besides himself, looking for new locations. Linkedin does state that the supermarket chain is looking for a real estate acquirer, who must ensure that Dirk can grow in the major cities.
“One person looking for new locations is very little,” says supermarket expert Erik Hemmes. “But don’t forget that the family also has a real estate company where new real estate projects are being developed.”
Indeed, the advertisement on Linkedin also states that Dirk’s real estate team works closely with Brookland, the real estate development and investment company of the Van den Broek family.
More than 950 reactions
Of the more than 950 responses Huizing has received, the majority come from consumers, and almost 70 percent come from the area where new branches are being sought.
Huizing would not say how many stores he expects to be able to open as a result of consumer help. “But given the number of tips, I certainly think that we can open a number of branches as a result.”
Dirk now has 126 stores, but ‘we want to grow very fast’. Huizing says he has in mind the minimum number of branches he wants to open per year, but he does not want to mention that number. “More than ten a year would be a very nice result.”
Want to grow
In 2012, Dirk opened the 100th store, which means that the number has grown by 26 percent in nine years. That’s a lot, but increasing the number of stores by more than ten a year is considerably more ambitious.
So emphatically asking consumers to help with the search is also a form of communication towards competitors that Dirk wants to grow, Hemmes thinks.
Every extra store you have means that your fixed costs per store decrease. If you also have enough space in your distribution center, that’s cheap growth, says Hemmes.
You also need a certain size to be able to make investments in IT, among other things, adds Mulder. Earlier this year, the family behind Deen supermarkets decided to throw in the towel and sell the stores.