Maxi expansion

Retail & leisure
POLAND German pet food and accessories store chain Maxi Zoo has plans to expand and open new stores in Poland. The company has six stores in the country at the moment – three in Warsaw (Sadyba Best Mall, next to E.Leclerc in Włochy district and adjacent to Kaufland in Białołęka), two in Poznań (CH Franowo and Winogrady) and one in Vendo Park in Milanówek. “Poland is our youngest daughter.

We set up a subsidiary here three years ago. In 2015 we didn’t open any stores. But we learned about the market and its consumers. We have built up a considerable volume of traffic, with an 80 pct y-o-y increase in sales from the existing space last year, and we have positive feedback from our customers. Currently we operate in twelve countries, but every country needs its own approach,” Patrick Bontenakels, the director of sales and marketing at Maxi Zoo in Poland, tells us. The company will be opening five stores in Warsaw this year. One of the first will be situated in the district of Praga Południe. In 2017 Maxi Zoo wants to open another ten stores, but outside Warsaw. It is also looking in a southerly direction, at Silesia: Kraków and Wrocław. Later another 20 shops are planned. “After Warsaw, Poznań also has the potential for more Maxi Zoo stores. Then we will go north – into the TriCity,” reveals Patrick Bontenakels.

Dogs are welcome

The company has very specific requirements for the space it wants to lease. This should be 400–700 sqm, with easy access to parking, and with the possibility to bring dogs inside and the option of proper branding on the façade. “We are looking at retail parks, locations in a direct retail neighbourhood, or those connected to malls with shared parking. Such as our store at Sadyba Best Mall. It is very successful. If I could I would enlarge it immediately. Another store, in Białołęka, is also very good for us: with its own parking and own entrance, but it can also be reached from an internal passage, connecting us to Rossmann and Pepco. Additionally, there are the Biedronka and Kaufland stores across the road,” says Patrick Bontenakels. Maxi Zoo is now in negotiations over a number of new locations and is looking at those with catchment areas of 100,000 people. “This gives us an idea of how many more locations are possible in Warsaw. Basically, there are no locations in Warsaw that we consider uninteresting, unless they are located next to existing ones. On the eastern side of the river there are three to four locations we are looking at, along with locations in Piaseczno – and I also like Ursynów,” reveals the head of Maxi Zoo’s sales department in Poland. But the numbers are not the only consideration. A good location can be where there is a combination of flats and single houses and at the same time a high probability of there being large populations of pet cats, dogs, fish and rodents. “We also pay special attention to locations neighbouring parks or walking areas,” adds Patrick Bontenakels. According to him, Warsaw has the potential for 15–20 Maxi Zoo shops or even more. “Shopping centres remain a big challenge for us. They know our expectations in terms of dogs and these are not so easy to fulfil. But there are many retail park projects going on. We are ready to adapt to some degree, but taking dogs inside – this is something we cannot compromise on,” he insists.

Expanding along the highway

Until now the company’s expansion plans have involved opening stores along routes connecting the country with Germany. The German parent company of Maxi Zoo, Fressnapf is based in Krefeld, outside Düsseldorf. Its warehouses are also located in Germany and are owned by it. Many of its suppliers are also located in the country with direct shipment services. “The initial idea for Poland was to follow the Berlin–Warsaw route. This strategy is evident in locations such as Poznań and Milanówek outside Warsaw. But in order to achieve the required scale we will adapt this strategy,” reveals the Maxi Zoo representative, adding that future expansion should be driven by other criteria than logistics. “The company will consider entering a new city when there is the possibility for three or four store locations. Then local structures, such as sales representatives, can be recruited,” explains the head of sales for Poland. “If somewhere exists where I could open more than four stores, believe me the logistics would be a secondary factor. In general, every city over 100,000 inhabitants is a potential location for our shops,” is how he describes the long term plans. For the moment, Maxi Zoo is not planning to open a warehouse in Poland. “But we are watching the market and are always on the lookout for opportunities, not only in terms of shops. Until now, Poland has not influenced the logistics set up in Germany, as this serves 1,400 stores across the whole of Europe. So in terms of the six stores currently located in Poland, our warehouses do not need to adjust their processes at all. But ask me in three years. Then the impact of Maxi Zoo on our business will be considerable,” promises Patrick Bontenakels.