There is what we say and what we do. Nothing beats jumping into our shopping world to observe the most important consumer trends. The sharp increase in energy costs is reshuffling the cards. Organic is difficult.
The eatery is reassuring, but we don’t know if that trend will continue or not. System U, which added 200,000 new customers last year, intends to remain price conscious. Interview with its President, Dominique Schelcher, who has just signed a book, happiness is near Published by the Archipelago.
The races, a “reflection of our society”
What impact is the energy crisis having on purchasing?
The shopping cart is always a reflection of our society. There is currently a real purchasing power-purchasing power ratio that results from the energy price and the heating bill. I see France divided into two parts. Half of the French feel comfortable. You can go organic and start consuming differently. But according to a current study by Elabe, 40% are accurate to the nearest euro at the end of the month.
What compromises does the consumer make?
We go into the essentials. We leave out the superfluous. New textiles are less in the foreground. The opposite, there may be second-hand clothes. This is something that is developing strongly within the brand. Other signs are to buy a little less meat and fish.
Is the local population suffering?
All studies, including the most recent, continue to show that the local criterion comes first, ahead of organic and label rouge products. Will he be dethroned? He’s not excluded because he wasn’t in the lead three years ago. But I think he keeps his strengths. The local has a calming dimension. Less CO2 emissions, employment in the regions, tradition.
Pay the farmers a fair price
How can you support agriculture?
50% of farmers will retire in the next ten years. If we don’t pay the right price for food, we risk “de-agriculturalization,” as there was deindustrialization. System U struggles to change the situation. In Cléry (Maas) we even helped to save a factory. We have supported several dairy cooperatives in great difficulty by signing five-year contracts and labeling the milk supplied with a blue white heart.
A kind of tripartite contract with farmers, manufacturers and retailers that we are trying to enforce throughout France. For the U brand, 80% of the products are made in France and a third of our U product activity is carried out under long-term contracts.
There will be no shortage of wheat in France.
What impact is the war in Ukraine having on your supply chains?
Ukraine and Russia account for 76% of world trade in sunflower oil. In our branches, the shelves are empty due to precautionary purchases. Second example: Ukraine is a major wheat producer.
We won’t miss it in France. On the other hand, the consequences of the war will make wheat-based products more expensive. Apart from these two agricultural products, aluminium, glass and certain packaging, which are manufactured in Ukraine, there are interruptions in supplies.
Where do you stand in e-commerce?
The health crisis was an enormous accelerator for digitization. In this niche, System U generated sales of 1 billion euros out of a total of 23 billion euros last year. In our best stores, this already accounts for 10% of sales.
In five years, this will account for 20% of activity for the latter. At group level, our goal is to double our digital revenue within five years. We’re investing in smartphone technology to make ordering easier for customers. It is a profound upheaval that requires large investments.
Is it profitable ?
When you start making 10% of sales, it’s profitable. And then we have no choice. If we don’t offer this service, we will lose customers.
Tax equity between digital and physical trade
that “Fast Trade” (Prompt delivery) Are you worried?
What does it mean to deliver ten products within 10 minutes when we demand more responsible consumption? Also, these products are mostly supplied by cyclists who work in poor social conditions. And I don’t believe in the economic relevance of this model, which is the case with 80€ for the baskets Drive, Profitability is already difficult.
In this area, you denounce an unequal relationship with the major digital platforms. What are you asking?
I advocate tax justice between digital and physical trade. Both activities should be taxed equally. Today, large logistic warehouses are exempt from a number of taxes that we pay. This is the case, for example, with Tascom (commercial land tax).
Noticeable difficulties in recruiting
Are you finding the skills you need?
There are two difficulties. We struggle to find certain skills on the job market. For this reason we have set up a CFA (Apprentice Training Center) with a class of about fifty people per year. These are people who already have a diploma and are looking for a new direction.
On the other hand, there is a lack of mobility, linked in particular to the difficulty of finding accommodation in France. We are making a give-and-take proposition: a fee reduction in exchange for a promise of support, including housing, for people who are reluctant to accept other regions’ offerings.