How did Brands For Less open 11 new stores during the pandemic?


March 25, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

With the inauguration of 11 new stores in 2020 and 14 more in the pipeline for the coming year, Brands For Less (BFL) is one of the few retailers in the region that turned the crisis into a massive opportunity.

At a time when most businesses were penny-pinching,  BFL invested in a massive fulfilment centre, multiple stores, and of course, technology.

“We had to fast-track our efforts –what would have taken five or six years had to be achieved in 6 months. We invested in online platforms and fulfilment centres,” said Toufic Kreidieh, CEO of BFL.

“In the month of April, when everyone was at home and no one was spending any money, we bought a 27,000sq m fulfilment centre in Jebel Ali and we got it for half the price. The fulfillment centre is set to open on May 15th,” he added.

It’s online DTC operations, on the website, app as well as social media, gained fresh momentum from both existing and new customers in the past year. As a result, the online arm which made up just 8% of the business pre-pandemic, today accounts for 27% of the company’s turnover.

BFL also realised how customer habits and behaviour changed dramatically last year and decided to capitalise on it. First, the fact that people were becoming more cost conscious worked in BFL’s favour, because as the name suggests, its business model revolves around offering off-price branded goods.

Secondly, it worked around the inherent nature of human beings. Kreidieh explains, “By nature, human beings are hunters. So we give them that treasure hunt experience, where they come out victorious having bought something for about 20% of its original price. This is why we were able to grow so fast.”

This model doesn’t just entice customers to enter the store once, but the consistent promise of great prices ensures that they come back again.

Moreover, Kreidieh is optimistic as he believes that one trend that will dominate the immediate future is ‘revenge purchasing’. “We are extremely positive because we know revenge shopping, revenge travelling and revenge spending is going to happen,” he said.

As long as retailers continue to deliver on their promise of personalised shopping experiences, good value, and great quality, with the continued push towards a strategic digital evolution, the industry will thrive.

“At the end of the day digital is the future. If we, as brick-and-mortar players can generate 50% of our revenue from online sources then we are on the right track,” he concluded.

 

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