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Mexico: 3B Stores will open 150 stores while looking sideways at e-commerce

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

Discount Retail Chain Tiendas 3B (owned by Anthony Hatoum and PE Group #Quilvest Capital Partners) plans to close the year with 1,350 points of sale, while expanding its coverage thanks to electronic commerce, through Mercado Libre. Supermarkets grew during the coronavirus pandemic and Tiendas 3B was no exception. In 2020 this chain of mini-supermarkets increased its number of customers, increased its sales to double digits and will maintain its expansion rate during this year. Anthony Hatoum, Lebanese founder and CEO of the chain, affirms that the company's revenues increased more than 25% at the end of 2020, as a result of its business model, which is committed to keeping prices low. This scheme, he points out, has allowed it to register similar growth in the last seven years. "In this year, which is going to be possibly difficult, any customer who is looking for value and who wants his money to go more, is a potential new customer for 3B Stores," he says.

3B Stores opened its first unit in the country's capital in 2005, after Hatoum moved to Mexico from Turkey. Now, its stores, which do not exceed 300 square meters, are located in the colonies of 12 states of the Mexican Republic, among them Guanajuato, Querétaro, Jalisco, the State of Mexico and Guerrero.

This year, the chain is preparing to open 150 more stores to add 1,350 at the end of the year, in addition to its nine distribution centers. Without revealing the investment amount, Hatoum explains that the location of these branches will follow the organic and “circular” growth that has caused the company to expand through the central region of the country from Mexico City.

The founder of the chain considers that proximity was one of the keys that led to attracting new customers to his sales floor during the lockdown. In other words, it was easier for consumers to buy basic products in their mini-supermarkets, without leaving their neighborhoods to visit other larger-format stores. “You can walk to a 3B Store and you can go every day,” he says.

Tiendas 3B "Good, nice and cheap" are the 'three bs' that Mexicans look for when buying a product. The director of 3B Stores considers that the value offer of its business model is based on offering good quality products at low prices.

To achieve this, the company maintains a restricted range of products so that consumers can only find items from the leading brands in their best-selling format on their shelves and, along with them, private label merchandise from 70 business partners at a still price. lower. We recommend: The supermarket does not offer offers for buyers and accepts only cash payments, to save the commission of banks or other digital payment platforms. “This is our policy. Always give the customer the best that we can. It's part of gaining customer trust, ”he says. Proximity stores are a format that large chains such as Walmart, Soriana and Chedraui have also explored in Mexico, with their Bodega Express, Soriana Express and Supercito formats, respectively, and that allow them to approach shoppers looking for the lowest prices . This is a scheme that, in fact, they have promoted during the last year.

Walmart closed last year with 1,133 Bodegas Express, the format that has driven its growth the most, as happened in the last quarter of 2020, when it opened 20 units of this format out of a total of 35 new units. Until September of last year, Soriana had 104 Soriana Express and Chedraui had 39 Supercitos, according to data from the latest financial reports filed with the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV).

“Mexico is a very competitive market in this sector, much more than any other country I know. But it is such a large country, with such a large, dynamic market that there is room for two, three or four players in this area of ​​local stores. There is room for everyone and this benefits the customer at the end of the day, ”declares Hatoum.

The surprise of e-commerce Online sales are a segment that Tiendas 3B boosted with the contingency of Mercado Libre. The online store within the company's marketplace achieved strong growth because it had a very small base, but what has surprised the Lebanese businessman the most is that they have orders from cities where they do not have coverage, such as Tijuana.

Even with good results on the digital platform, Hatoum explains that for now it will not launch its own online store. The businessman points out that the costs of the logistics chain would be a barrier to his low price policy.

“I prefer to sell in stores at the lowest price. I think that the market for the moment is here, it is what the client asks for. But the day you ask to buy more online, we turn to that channel in two seconds," he warns.


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