EC at the Retail Society

 In Company News, Retail

On the 25th of February, Gondola invited about 200 CEOs, marketing directors, industrialists and other mass retail actors to review the sector’s health, its economic prospects, its expectations and its challenges. Four renowned speakers, including Dominique Michel, CEO of COMEOS, Jean Eylenbosch, FEVIA’s new president, Jean-Jacques Van den Heede, consultant for NIELSEN, and two economists from the National Bank of Belgium (BNB).

The retail sector is Belgium’s biggest employer. The future of the sector affects more or less 400.000 people. According to the BNB, 2016 should be a favourable year with slight economic growth (+1,4%) and confident consumers, but the sector’s profit margin fell slightly (1,53%) in 2015. Not only is the market overloaded, but it is also changing following the explosion of e-commerce. How to adapt, knowing that 30% of sales are already done online, with an annual growth rate of 15%?

During the fourth quarter of 2015, 75% of the Belgian population over 15 years old made online purchases for a total amount of 2,17 billion euros. A total of 22,35 million purchases have been made with the average amount being 97 euros per purchase. …Another effect of the Internet is the delocalization of purchases: more than 2 billion euros are spent each year outside of Belgium, on the French or Dutch borders. The difference in wage costs between Belgium and the Netherlands is 20%, which influences prices…

The bottom line is simple: distributors are going to have to adapt to this evolution, otherwise their market share will decrease. The good news is, amongst other things, that the sector is playing the sustainable development card with an 80% decrease in plastic bags since 1993, saving 4.560 tons. It is also playing the public health card with a 10% decrease in salt content within 3 years. With regards to waste, thousands of products are sent each year to food banks.

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