London and Paris are similar in many respects. Each are home to about eight million people, and both are world cities that culturally dominate their respective countries. And Londoners and Parisians are very different from the average Brit or French person. Their per capita wealth is more than double their country average. They tend to be tech-savvy and ahead of the curve with new trends. To generalise on their food tastes, they are adventurous and open to new innovations. In many ways, though they’d never admit it, they are much more similar to each other than their respective fellow countrymen. In short, they are the perfect test grounds for new food ideas.
But when it comes to supermarkets, it’s all very different. In London, national supermarket chains by and large stock a similar range to the rest of the country. In Paris, supermarkets are more tuned in to the local, more affluent shopper.
So why don’t London supermarkets have a very different range to the rest of the UK? Well, some of them do have an upmarket ranging, but frankly it’s not that different. Tech advances with centralised distribution should have gone full circle by now, with supermarkets able to keep modern stock management disciplines while still offering a more locally bespoke range.
The rewards are clear. I remember Gü outsold Müller in most inner London stores, even though Müller had a three times the number of SKUs in these stores. Just imagine the extra revenue supermarkets could make from a much more targeted range! Consumers would benefit and innovative suppliers would have a real chance to succeed with their more cutting-edge ideas.
Monoprix (basically the French equivalent of Waitrose) has a dominant market share and actively seeks out new innovations for Paris. It generally charges a Paris premium and it’s much easier to get just a Paris listing for your product. One of Gü’s best-ever decisions was launching in Paris, where it was extraordinarily successful.
So my message to the UK multiple retailers is that they should take another look at a proper London ranging. You’ll have happier customers and make more money. And my message to innovative UK suppliers? Go check out Paris - it’s a great place to do business. Bon courage!
James Averdieck founded Gü Puds and now coaches on innovation and entrepreneurialism. Contact him via jamesaverdieck.com