one: Over the last 25 years, PENNY has expanded from zero stores in the Czech Republic to the 400 it operates today. Why do the Czechs enjoy shopping at PENNY so much?
Jens Krieger: Your question includes part of the answer. With over 400 stores, we have the largest network in the Czech market and significantly more than some of our competitors. We are pretty much everywhere, which means our customers can simply stop by one of our stores to shop quickly and economically. The primary focus of our expansion programme is to grow our presence in smaller towns of 3,000 to 5,000 inhabitants, rather than in major cities.
After 25 years, we are proud to say that we are the biggest discounter in the Czech Republic and are still attracting new customers. That’s because PENNY customers find low-cost, high-quality products in our stores, which are designed so that they can quickly buy whatever they need every day. This strategy is proving particularly effective in today’s challenging economic climate, as customers are paying more attention to prices than ever before.
one: Looking back, how has shopping changed in the Czech Republic over the years?
Jens Krieger: Shopping at PENNY has changed in a number of ways. When we entered the Czech market in the 1990s, it was dominated by conventional discounters, and products were simply put out on pallets without any kind of shopping experience. However, the market has changed – and so have customer behaviour and tastes. We have adapted our business in line with these changes. In the last six years in particular, we have updated our stores and moved to a market hall approach, which is characterised by a more sophisticated shopping environment, new customer traffic flows and lighter, brighter stores.
We are concentrating on more fresh food and sell a wider range of fresh fruit, vegetables and pastries in our stores. In addition, we offer organic, lactose-free and gluten-free products as well as plant-based meat alternatives. We are also expanding our range by incorporating themed weeks to showcase products associated with Italian, US and Asian cuisines, as well as XXL packs and exclusive Easter and Christmas selections.
However, we will remain true to our fundamental principles of efficiency, productivity and profitability. We are a discounter, which means that our aim is to always provide our customers with a better value for their money than the competition. It’s in our DNA, and we are sticking to it.
one: How is shopping in the Czech Republic different to other European countries?
Jens Krieger: Along with Slovakia, the Czech Republic has more promotions than anywhere else in Europe – or indeed the rest of the world. This averages out at about 55 percent of products sold, while in neighbouring countries it is about 20 percent.
Competition in the Czech Republic was extremely fierce in the 1990s, and virtually every retailer set up shop here during the country’s economic transformation, leading to relatively high retail prices with very low promotional prices. Czech customers are still accustomed to this and act accordingly in their daily routines.