Can you give us an overview of the company?
We operate in the retail space under three banners. Additionally, we have a real estate business, taking our number of main divisions to four. The first division is called Marjane, under which we have 40 hypermarkets in Morocco. The second is supermarkets, called Marjane Market, and we have 42 in the country. The final division is electronic supplies, which has 28 Electroplanet home appliance stores. Regarding our real estate business, we are number one in retail. We have shopping malls, commercial parks, and hypermarkets and markets. Our business began with one hypermarket called Marjane at the end of the 1980s. Between 2002 and 2007, Marjane had a venture with French retailer Auchan. The Moroccan shareholder purchased the shares of Auchan, and it is now 100% owned by Moroccan shareholders. We had a major change in our business around 2014, when we decided to get rid of our alcohol business. It was a huge decision for us because it represented around 25% of our net margin. We have been recovering for the past few years, thoughnow we are doing well.
What are your future expansion plans?
We are growing with the level of urbanization across the country. We follow the trend of the country, and though we have a focus on high and middle classes, we remain strong in democratizing products for all, especially in the non-food business.
How have the spending patterns of Moroccans changed, considering that GDP is growing but purchasing power remains largely the same?
If Moroccan society can be broken into five tiers, tiers A and B represent around 60% of our sales. Meanwhile, A, B, and C account for around 85- 90%. The big challenge is making sure these macroeconomic changes translate into micro changes. This means we need to ensure development positively impacts all levels of society. The various tiers of society are facing new costs and challenges, and we have to make sure each tier is able to develop and grow. People in lower tiers are focused on spending more on things like education. This means they are consuming cheaper food items. On the other hand, the upper tiers are consuming high-quality food items. We see strong growth in these areas. We have made huge changes in terms of the quality of the goods we offer, thanks to a focus on added value. People of all social tiers recognize and appreciate this value. Moroccans are now looking for quality in their food much more than before, when they were more focused on price. Starting from 2017, we have seen our brand equity increase significantly. We are far ahead of our closest competitor.
What is your approach to organic food?
We are talking about health and wellness a great deal. Healthy and organic food is essential. Organic food has huge demand, but we have to be careful of those offering organic products that are not actually organic. There are many other ways of looking at healthy food. We decided to focus on areas like freshness across our product lines. We have developed a method for controlling the entire supply chain of our products to ensure they are of the highest quality. We are also focused on natural production techniques that require fewer chemicals. Under the Sélection Marjane banner, we offer a range of healthy fresh products thanks to strong partnerships with local producers and farmers.
What are your goals for 2020?
We want to continue with the strategy we developed in 2017. We want to focus more on fresh products, which means sourcing quality products from all over the world. We are doing market research all over the world, including local high-quality products.