September 8, 2021

Colombia-based retailer Grupo Éxito (part of the French retail group Casino), operates 84 stores under its premium supermarket banner Carulla.

In August 2021, the business appointed Guillermo Matías Destefanis as Carulla’s new executive director. Destefanis previously managed the Devoto supermarket banner in Uruguay, which is also owned by Grupo Éxito.

In recent interviews with Colombian economic press, Destefanis has discussed Grupo Éxito’s medium-term strategy for Carulla.

Continue the roll out of FreshMarket

Grupo Éxito launched its Carulla FreshMarket format in 2018. FreshMarket stores have a greater focus on innovative technology, sustainability, and providing an enhanced shopping experience for customers (more below).

So far, 16 of the 84 Carulla stores have been converted to FreshMarket and the sales for these stores have consistently outperformed the rest of its stores. 

Destefanis said that the success of the FreshMarket format has shown the retailer that “customers are looking for differentiated and innovative experiences”.

Grupo Éxito plans to convert an additional five stores in 2021 and said there is potential to convert 18 more in the future (totalling 34).

Accelerate Carulla’s digital transformation

Whilst managing Devoto, some of Destafanis’ key achievements include launching the retailers’ digital transformation and omni-channel strategies, which stands him in good stead for helping to drive forward Carulla’s digital transformation.  

Destefanis said: “We will continue to strengthen Carulla’s digital transformation, always keeping the customer at the centre of our decisions and working to strengthen the company’s omnichannel strategy. 

“This year we bring a new generation of our FreshMarket format, and we have several renovations planned in our warehouses.”

The retailer said that it will continue to implement new innovations and technology, with a focus on enhancing the customer experience and supporting biosafety measures. 

For example, some of the latest FreshMarket openings feature advanced checkout technologies, such as Smile ID (payment by facial recognition) and Fruver Scan (automatic recognition of fruit and vegetables placed on the self-checkouts’ scanner), which reduce contact and support faster payment.

Carulla offers payment using Smile ID, facial recognition

Bolster the omni-channel proposition

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for shoppers migrating to using services like click & collect, kerbside collection, home delivery, and last mile delivery. 

Grupo Éxito is ahead of its competitors in terms of the omnichannel services it offers, which has acted as a significant differentiator throughout the pandemic.

Destefanis said: “People will continue to seek these services as some remain apprehensive about visiting physical stores, at least in the medium-term. As a result, strengthening its omnichannel services remains high on Grupo Éxito’s agenda.”

The retailer aims to drive increased sales penetration through its website and app. To support this, it is building loyalty through its Puntos Colombia loyalty programme (the largest loyalty points coalition in Colombia).

Ongoing commitment to sustainability and conscious consumption

Grupo Éxito is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and has so far opened 12 Carulla stores that have been certified as carbon neutral by ICONTEC, the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification.

Its latest store designs utilise natural refrigeration systems and solar panels which allow it to generate renewable energy.

Oliver Butterworth, Senior Retail Analyst at IGD, said: “The business does an aspirational job of its local sourcing, supporting SMEs, and contributing towards a circular economy. It also continues to roll out its sustainable livestock model, which contributes to the conservation of ecosystems and animal welfare.”

As reported on Sial Newsroom recently, Grupo Éxito is just one of many leading global supermarket chains to have announced their commitment to a more sustainable future.

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