- Producers are afraid of reducing gas supplies, poultry and dairy products may become more expensive – forecasts the president of Lidl Polska. At the same time, it calms down – Poland is a rich and self-sufficient country in terms of food production
- He adds that the value for money is becoming more and more important when choosing customers. – Consumers will have to pay more attention to how they spend their money
- Włodzimierz Wlaźlak tells us whether his family uses lidlomiks and whether this popular equipment will reappear on store shelves
- When asked about the potential opening of stores on non-trading Sundays, he definitely declares – Lidl will not leave the competition’s movement unanswered
- In an interview with Business Insider Polska, the head of one of the largest retail chains also explains why there is a shortage of sugar in many places in the country
- It also announces a surprise related to the offer of articles prepared for the return of children to school. – I will not say a word more, except that it will start around August 20
- More such information can be found on the main page of Onet.pl
Mikołaj Kunica: Do you have time to do home shopping in person? How often do you visit stores, what and what are your main guidelines when making purchasing decisions?
Włodzimierz Wlaźlak, president of Lidl Poland: I do home shopping in Lidl. Of course, according to the list that the wife will prepare. Sometimes I fall into the competition. Competition must be known, appreciated and respected, but always one step ahead of it. What is my driving force? I know the assortment, so mainly with quality. We also have shelves where we test new things. Sometimes I buy products that sell a little less than we expect in order to better understand the perspective of my customers. Check how they are placed on the shelves and what they taste like.
I usually shop in Poznań, where Lidl is based, and in Pabianice, my hometown. I am also often in a store in Warsaw, where we have our offices. Always, even if I’m on private shopping, I’m still on business. I can’t separate it. Every time I talk to store employees. I look at the level of customer service and cleanliness.
Are you in the category of clients who are hunters? Are you waiting when there will be, for example, Italian or Spanish week in Lidl?
I belong to the category of offer hunters rather than promotion. When it comes to the nonfood segment, I am waiting for specific products, e.g. the entire line of bicycle products (Crivit) is great and I use them often.
I wonder what is the biggest hit among such offers? I know, for example, that in our editorial office there are several lidlomix fans (Monsieur Cuisine – ed.)
“Lidlomiks”, a multi-functional kitchen robot, is actually a sensation. Top-shelf goods, and the price is half the price of a brand-name product. That’s why it’s such a “frenzy”. It will definitely appear in our offer this year, although at the moment I am not able to give a specific date. My friends have and they praise each other very much.
Perhaps one day I will be tempted by such equipment. It requires a little more space in the kitchen, but it is quite a large device. As for me, I look forward to spring activities such as sports and garden (Crivit and Florabest collections).
Let’s stay a moment while shopping. For many people it would be more convenient to do them on Sundays. Meanwhile, for several years we have had a ban on trading on public holidays with a few exceptions in the year. In my opinion, the fact that, for example, Żabka’s franchise points are open in virtually every town in the country 7 days a week, distorts competition. Do you understand and accept this state of play?
You must always “play” according to the rules in force. As a company, we are committed to obeying the law and we always do it. Although this is not our direct competition, I obviously know Żabka’s situation. They also operate legally on the basis of a functioning law. Of course, there are situations that are more and less convenient for business. The “in-game” rule changes are the worst, and we’ve had quite a few recently. It is important that the regulations are equal and clear for the entire market. When it comes to shopping convenience, we’ve gone the other way. After the ban entered into force, we extended the “trade windows”. Shops are open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., sometimes even 11 p.m. Anyone can shop with us, because not many people work 16 or 17 hours a day.
Will you be looking for a way to legally open stores on non-trading Sundays? With sports equipment rentals or reading rooms? Is this the right direction?
Will we be looking for such gates? You do not need to look for them because they are widely known. We don’t use them. However, I want to say one thing clearly. If other competitors take advantage of such options, we will not leave it unanswered and we will be quickly forced to reorganize our way of working. The law should always be equal for all market participants and ensure fair conditions for competition.
In June, Poles spent 19.9 percent in stores. more than a year ago. At constant prices, ie adjusted for inflation, retail sales increased by only 3.2%. per year. This result is weaker than in previous months and clearly worse than economists’ forecasts. Is this the beginning of the end of good times for Polish consumers?
We are already observing the change on several levels. First, there is much greater interest in food items than in non-food items. The ratio of quality to price is becoming more and more important, so we are confident about our future, because we are absolute leaders in terms of quality and price. In wallets and household budgets, the cost of loans is starting to account for a much greater part, which results from the increase in interest rates. Interest rates increase and people simply have less money left over for other expenses. Certainly, consumers will have to pay more attention to how they spend their money.
It’s mid-August. Companies are starting the process of budgeting and making plans for the next year. What are your assumptions at Lidl Polska? Will 2023 be a worse year?
We assume continuous growth and development. The times to come will require a lot of flexibility and improved competitiveness. We will try to prepare our offer in such a way as to keep the lowest prices. Thanks to this, although the year looks to be a crisis, we assume an increase in turnover. How much exactly? Autumn will tell us a lot. When people come back from vacation. The beginning of the school year, despite various types of government programs, is a large expense for families. So in real terms, in October it will be possible to assess how customers will behave in the coming months. Obviously, we are most told by the development of the situation in the East, which is the main generator of pan-European problems.
Inflation is today the biggest bane not only of Polish companies, consumers or the economy in general. As one of the largest players in the retail market, do you anticipate further pressure on price increases in the coming months? In which categories of goods and services do you feel the inflation pressure the most?
I think that the biggest “price shock” is behind us or we are just going through it. If there are restrictions on the supply of basic products, the price naturally increases. Producers signal that they are afraid, for example, of reducing gas supplies.
Such warnings are sent, for example, by the dairy industry. Milk may be more expensive due to limited gas supply. What is happening in other industries?
Dairy products in general, so not only milk and its products, but also eggs. The problem may also arise on chicken farms that are largely gas-heated. Poultry and dairy products are included in a range of other products. I would absolutely not like to increase my anxiety, because Poland is a rich and self-sufficient country in terms of food production. Only calmness can contribute to the lack of further increases. Sugar is a good example. The price went up not because there was a shortage of sugarbut because it began to be said that he would not be there. This is a sociological phenomenon. Everyone started buying more than they needed. This is similar to the ATM money situation after February 24. The problem was not that there was not enough money, but that everyone started paying it out for a few weeks ahead. I think it’s the same with sugar prices.
What is the overall impact of the war in Ukraine on business? On the one hand, we have 3 million new consumers. I don’t know with what portfolio, what is the refugee’s purchasing power. On the other hand, this situation affects the labor market. From the third, the influx of such a mass of people creates additional pressure on the increase in prices and costs of living.
This is a very complex question. 3 million new consumers are indispensable. For example, the consumption of bread from our bakery has increased significantly, but fruit and vegetables, i.e. all fresh products, are also selling well. The purchasing power of Ukrainian customers is similar, but the share of food spending in smaller budgets is greater. Has the labor market unlocked? You don’t see that yet. From May to August inclusive, the economy was racing. The first quarter is a GDP growth of over 8%. A slight slowdown is already visible in the second quarter. This will likely translate into the labor market, but with some delay. It’s vacation time, and then the economy works a bit differently. That is why I am saying that autumn will tell us a lot.
You mentioned vacation. Will there be back to school sales campaigns in Lidl, as in previous years?
Yes, but I will not say a word more except it will be a nice surprise. It will start around August 20, but the final decision has not been made yet. It will be associated with the social responsibility of Lidl Polska. We are currently offering promotions of the school offer related to the program and the Big Family Card.
I was looking for information about your private life on the web. Little is known about you. You come from Pabianice. He graduated from management studies in Łódź. Do you have a family, passions, or any dreams of long journeys, unfulfilled to this day?
I have no unfulfilled dreams. One of such adventures of life was a cross-country ride around the United States. In 2019, my wife and children managed to get to know America and Americans a bit, “inside out”. Not only the largest cities, but also the province. I have always been a football lover as well. I played for a long time, albeit at a lower level than later, in volleyball, which I played in the professional league. I was the quarterback.
Mikołaj Kunica, editor-in-chief of Business Insider Polska