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Italy: Todis the Italian cooperative discounter

Discount Retail Chain Todis, a brand born in Rome, owned by Iges Srl, controlled by the PAC2000A. It is a Conad cooperative that includes over 300 stores distributed over 10 regions of central and southern Italy (including those controlled by Addis srl, a joint venture with Conad Adriatico). It has just opened a new store in Rome in the Prati district, an elegant district of Rome, with its shops, refined restaurants, taverns that offer traditional cuisine or where to shop, for example in via Cola di Rienzo, one of the main shopping streets of the city, former headquarters of a historic Standa store today of Coin with inside laEsse di Esselunga.

The new store opened has a particular configuration. To put it simply, it is, in my opinion, halfway between the flagship store "Terre d'Italia" that Carrefour is experimenting in Milan, in Piazza De Angelis and laEsse di Esselunga with a specific vocation with respect to the reference district. Therein lies the real difference. Since we are in Rome I would say a sort of "pizzicarolo" 2.0 living part of the district and the context. It reminds a bit of the old neighborhood shop, obviously in a modern key, which managed, putting its face, its loyal customers. It was he who decided the products to recommend. It conveyed confidence. It was him, the brand. The difference is that Carrefour and Esselunga transfer the strength and notoriety of their brand to the local context. Todis chooses to include the context, in the sensitivity of the store. In my opinion, this is no small difference.

Todis Rione Prati "La Via Gustosa" on Lungotevere Michelangelo, follows Todis Rione Colonna and Todis Rione Trastevere. The format of the new store, totally innovative dedicated to the 22 districts that outline the heart of the capital and that take the name of the district that hosts it. A format aimed at central districts, full of services with an assortment particularly focused on the Premium segment and Food To Go. Bilingual communication given the strong presence of tourists, technology that accompanies and facilitates the purchase thanks to the presence of numerous tools to be able to view, for example, all the characteristics of the wine offer.

In 2022, Todis reached over 1 billion euros in sales, +12% compared to 2021, opening 23 new stores. The market share remained constant: 4.1% at national level in the reference channel, positioning itself among the top three brands in some of the regions where it is present. General Manager Massimo Lucentini is a prepared and innovative manager. Less tied than others to the organizational schemes and principles that have characterized the standard evolution of the formats of the sector in the twentieth century.

The basic idea is that a store should reflect the social context and the needs of customers who interact with it more than the strength of the sign or brand. In this way it shifts the center of gravity and reverses priorities. And it is also in the philosophy of Conad to increase and enhance the presence in communities and be in the heart of urban centers. Definitely for PAC2000A. The very spread of franchising leads to a "personalization" of the business model that inevitably tends to bring out the point of sale on the sign itself. As well as the same increasingly accentuated nomadism of customers. For better or for worse.

Apart from the commercial aspect and the different schools of thought, the presence of a plurality of generally small entrepreneurs does not prevent, through the different forms of associationism, investments and important business development. We saw this with Operation Auchan by Conad and I expect other operations in the near future. The handbrake pulled is likely to concern the technological development linked to omnichannel.

Obviously the debate on the topic is open. Fashion or necessity, the competitive context will decide its fate. However, I believe that the time taken away from pure technological development by the associated groups and the closure within the more traditional perimeter of home delivery, "click and collect" and so on inevitably favors the large chains, especially international ones, which focus on the customer both when he is sitting on the sofa or when he enters a store. And how the purchasing experience will be lived in the future. If the customer is truly at the centre, it will be the ability to reach him and stimulate him everywhere that will be successful. Not the barriers to entry. Innovation does not stop with fears but only by accepting their challenges.

Then there is a big bet on the table. The chains of the north, multinational or not, in the south, have run around or had to pass the hand. However, it does not seem that the rule applies to discounters. I expect, based on the strength of the "law of the pendulum", a convinced advance in the opposite direction from south to north. There is quality and desire to emerge among the entrepreneurs of the center and the south. There are those who are gearing up. Todis, with Conad behind him, is to keep an eye on in his probable expansion projects. Also because, driver, car and team are top notch.


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