Dubai-based Urban Foods – operating French brands Géant, Franprix and Monoprix in the UAE – is on a “carefully studied and well-researched” growth path, to reach customers where they are. “We are looking to open six-eight supermarkets and the first two Géant hypermarkets this year,” confirmed Mark Lack, CEO, Urban Foods.
“In doing so, we will stick to our community-first approach. The first Géant Hypermarket will open in Al Khwaneej towards April and the second in Dubai Hills Estate. At the same time, we will open a 6,460 sqft Franprix convenience store in Dubai Hills Estate that will offer health, wellness, fresh and to-go food, while the 63,000 sqft Géant Hypermarket will cater for much broader needs. Overall, we are trying to get into areas that are underserved with a promise,” he added.
In what is an already competitive landscape, the food and grocery concepts are today not only competing with peers but also with the online food delivery platforms. “What we are fighting for is the share of stomach versus the online food delivery platforms,” Lack stated. “The landscape is becoming quite interesting as we are now thinking about getting our bakery and deli counters online. We already offer home delivery, although delivering hot food within a short timeframe is a different challenge.” Currently, Urban Foods has partnered with InstaShop to do delivery for its brands.
“We are moving towards an era of blended experience between online shopping and convenience in-store. What will matter is proximity shopping, in-store navigation and personalisation as customers are spending less per basket, but more frequently. The trend of monthly shopping has dwindled; today, people like to do their grocery shopping every other day in order and buy fresh,” Lack observed.
In summation, commenting on a significant shift in consumer buying behaviour, he said, “Consumers are raising concerns on single-use plastic for packaging. In response, we have started removing as much as packaging as possible, so that customers can touch the produces and then take it home in the packaging of their choice.” Also, high-quality pre-made, ready-to-eat, reheat-to-eat and convenient foods from the deli counters are gaining popularity, along with plant-based proteins.