Materials from Retail Summit 2018

Feb 4 – 6, 2019 Clarion Congress Hotel Prague

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Answers of speakers to questions from Sli.do



Block B: Answers of Espen Larsen (Penny Market)

  • What is the basic difference in corporate culture of penny and ALDI?

    Now, first of all I can only talk about my own business. At least at PENNY we aim for a corporate culture that encourages individual responsibility and open-minded, solution-oriented way of working. It allows us to react quickly to market changes.

  • How can you as Penny, contribute to environmental balance in our Market - Food Waste etc.?

    As I have already mentioned in my speech we at PENNY take our responsibility seriously and always try to do even more than required by law. We dedicate this year to the fight against food waste - to become an inspiration not only for our employees but also for our customers. Penny Market, as the first store chain, started to sell vegetables and fruit of non-standard shapes from Czech farmers two years ago already. This year we launched a new loyalty campaign to explain to children that crooked vegetables and fruits are valuable, taste great and do not have to be thrown away. Furthermore, we launched a new website www.pennykonecplytvani.cz to increase the awareness of food wastage and to provide everyone with valuable tips how to avoid it.

    As the most recent example of our contribution Penny Market will provide the Czech Food Bank Federation with a distribution centre for the entire Federation for a symbolic rent of 1 crown per month. In addition, we offered our know-how in logistic processes to help the food banks to ensure long-term capacity for food distribution.

  • Can you imagine that, one day, you replace promo actions with every-day-low prices?

    Yes, it could be possible – but probably not for the whole range. However the main indicator will be as always the customer behaviour and expectations. Even if one day we would stop advertising, we understood it as our main task to achieve the best quality at the best price for our customers.

  • Which stakeholder is the most difficult to keep balance with?

    Each stakeholder has its unique role in our common business. For me the most challenging task is to find a mutual balance when supporting the interests of all stakeholders and to contribute to the overall stability and development on the Czech market. A successful example how to achieve a healthy balance with all stakeholders is for PENNY the long-term cooperation with Czech producers and the support of Česká Potravina in general.

  • Your communication promoting private labels is denouncing your partner - brand products’ producers. Are you aware that this approach is dis-balancing the relations?

    The development of our private labels is always in line with our corporate strategy – which means that we continuously set a high value on “Czechness” and focus on the cooperation with local Czech suppliers. In other words, each of our brand products producers can become a supplier of our private labels – and many of them do already. Anyway, at the end it is always the customer who decides if he prefer a brand product or a private label.

  • You started localization initiative last year, even naming the stores (see e g penny Lehovec). Do you plan to continue with that program?

    We continue with the further development of the new concept and are happy to see that our customers and employees value the changes.

  • Your strongest differentiation factor is the price. Don't you think that this approach will not allow you to serve the customers with higher quality products?

    Our mission is to make the best possible quality accessible to all our customers – irrespective their financial situation. This is why we in each price segment always search for the best quality available to offer it our customers – at prices they can afford.

  • How do you collect feedback from your 7000 employees and has anything ever changed by employees’ initiative or idea?

    Continuous improvement and optimization play a very important role in our everyday work. We implemented many different initiatives to collect feedback from our employees directly – an app for example allowing them to evaluate our private labels or the possibility to share their ideas with colleagues via our own PENNY radio. A great example of involving our employees is our regular “BUDDY” program where colleagues from stores develop concrete solutions together with colleagues from the headquarters. Many of these ideas have been already successful implemented.

  • How is it going with redesign of your stores in Czechia, which you have started in 2016? How many stores you've already changed and how many it will be in 2018?

    As an innovative discounter, we always question our current concepts and develop them. Currently we are still in the testing phase of our new concept. As long as the test is running, we are basically open to all possibilities.

  • Is it better to have heavily discounted brands or private labels? Why some think slashing prices on brands is more desirable?

    The Czech market is unique in being heavily promotion-driven, Czech customers expect strong promotional offer every week. We consider this in our assortment offer to meet the customers´ needs and expectations.