Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Store check: Russian ultra-discount brand Mere in Situ (Spain).
Here is Olivier Dauvers visit in photos.
1 / The first Spanish Mere is… in an old Aldi
As a nod to commercial history, the first store Mere opened in Spain was in an old Aldi store building (which can be recognized quite quickly by the architecture). About 800 m2, on a roundabout a few kilometers from the airport (for the curious who will make the trip, if you land by sea, you will see it!).
2 / Like a step back in time ...
The first impression is startling. Especially for those who knew the first German hard-discounters in France in 1989/90, which is my case. By the way, just like that, a photo of Mere today followed by a photo of Lidl decades ago! Striking.
3 / Wall racks, central pallets
The assets are summary. Very sketchy. On the wall (right and left), Mere has installed racks, warehouse style. In the center, no material. Just pallets on the ground which are used as support for supplier boxes.
4 / A staircase presentation
Most products are handled by cardboard (and not by pallet, contrary to what is often written on Mere). For the visual effect, Mere opts for a staircase presentation and with products that are presented out of the box. Result: throughout my visit, I saw employees handling unitary products (and not just boxes, which obviously penalizes productivity).
5 / Fresh in a cold room-style area
No fresh furniture at Mere. At the back of the store, fresh products (<50 items) are presented in a cold room of approximately 75 m2. There are also a few pallets of drinks (fruit juice, sodas, beers).
6 / Fruits and vegetables
Do not look for a fruit and vegetable section, you would be disappointed ;-) Here, two references: an onion pallet and a potato pallet inside the cold room. For the rest, you will have to go to Mercadona 5 minutes away!
7 / The matches? On pallet!
No fruit and vegetables (or almost) but the matches are presented on a pallet on the ground. I might have missed it before, but I don't remember ever seeing it.
8 / Non-food: 15 items
Fairly early in the customer journey: non-food covers 15 SKUs. The offer goes in all directions (toaster, flashlight and power strip), reflecting Mere's strategy: opportunism. Ultimately, no different from other discounters.
9 / “Big” international brands: on the fingers of one hand
Three major brands available: President (cheese), Barilla (pasta) and Coca-Cola.
10 / Large import from "the East": a few rare products
Mere is preceded by a reputation as a seller of Russian products with questionable specifications. As much to say: it does not jump to the eyes. Yes, there are quite a few “Eastern” products like this Ukrainian sauce, but objectively there are very few of them. Not enough to generalize as we can read. In any case here in Spain (you can imagine that my tour of Europe for Mere did not stop at the Iberians border...).
11 / The most ambitious initiative ...
Before going through the checkout, here is the most ambitious initiative in the shopping experience: a salmon aperitif snack with a palette of beer. Or when Mere reasons her merchandising by use ... Cross-merchandising at the cantor of ultra-discount!
12/ 3 cashiers
Unadorned checkouts. No way to end on a gentler note!