Shrinking Giant

Real gets real about online shopping

A supermarket with a view: The Real chain's pilot project, a modern market hall, in North Rhine-Westphalia. Source: DPA

For a while, business at the Real supermarket chain has heading one way: down. Ten years ago, Real had 349 stores in Germany. Today it has only 282. Any international activities have been discontinued and fresh store closures are already scheduled in Mainz and Bremen.

This decline is reflected in the financial results of Real, a unit of retailing conglomerate Metro. In the last two fiscal years alone, Real’s turnover fell by €1 billion ($1.18 billion) to less than €7.5 billion, and the company has undergone rounds of cost-cutting programs.

But now, managers on the offensive. Following the model of a flagship shop in Krefeld, 30 Real stores are to be converted into chic modern market halls, and other outlets are expanding their fresh produce departments. “It is quite possible that we will be opening up a completely new Real store in the future,” Real’s boss, Patrick Müller-Sarmiento, told Handelsblatt. The company is ready to invest €1 billion in the new upscale shops.

Most importantly, Real will launch a delivery service for fresh groceries and hopes this will outshine the country’s leader in online retailing, Amazon. A first test is already underway in Dusseldorf and the chain is delivering leafy greens and more in ten further cities from Berlin, Hanover and Dortmund to Bergen on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen.

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