Empik vs. shopping experience

Retail & leisure
POLAND In the middle of this year the Empik Media & Fashion chain is to open the first Empik under a new concept, which is to be a response to the omnichannel sales trend. The company has prepared a plan for the gradual introduction of a new interior design to existing and newly-opened outlets. Three Empiks with the new format are to be opened in various parts of Poland before the end of this year

Whats new?

The sales concept that has been prepared envisages not only a new interior design for the shops, but it is mostly intended to combine various forms of selling. “It will be a completely new format, not only in terms of the design, but also a completely new shopping experience for customers. Empik outlets will be equipped with the latest omnichannel technologies that streamline navigation around the store, help find a desired product sought after or order a product that is not in the shop at a given time. In a consumer survey we carried out, nearly 80 pct of customers stated that they come to Empik because they want to do something pleasant. So our goal is to equip our shops with the attributes that will make them even friendlier,” explains Ewa Szmidt-Belcarz, the president of the board of the Empik chain. The company employed the London-based 20.20 consulting company for the project. “Its team has carried out a number of projects that successfully translated the essence of a given brand into the visual language and shopping experience that was mentioned earlier. The agency was responsible for the revitalisation of the Swiss bookshop chain P&B, Nissan showrooms and Arsenal football club,” adds the head of Empik. As far as the range of goods is concerned, the company will continue to focus on its core, i.e. books, film and music. “We will also continue to develop categories related to hobbies, creative ways of spending free time and self-development. These include artistic and creative products, stationery, educational toys and board games. We adopted this direction of changes in H1 last year and it is to be continued. Our 2015 financial results are the best proof that it was the right decision, as this was the best year in terms of sales growth in the last seven years. The growth was mainly due to the publishing and non-publishing categories. According to the latest data of the GfK panel, our share in the book market in 2015 increased by 3 pct compared to 2014,” emphasises Ewa Szmidt-Belcarz.

Queuing for changes

The new format is to be introduced in selected existing Empik outlets as well as newly-opened locations. “Firstly the changes will take place in stores with the greatest sales potential and will be carried out in a close cooperation with shopping centre owners,” reveals the head of Empik. She insists that the introduction of the new sales concept will not involve a change in the shop area. It will have no impact on decisions to open of close down of Empik shops. “We are planning to open a dozen or so outlets per year, as has been done so far. The introduction of the new design will not have any impact on this policy. Over the next few years our chain will continue to expand,” claims Ewa Szmidt-Balcerzak. The company is also looking at a few other areas of potential further development, the so-called ‘dormitory districts’ of the cities in which the brand is already present. The company is also taking a close look at satellite towns as well as other medium-sized and small towns.

To combine two worlds

The president of Empik stresses that because of the dynamic development of the online store the company is planning to increase the share of online channels in its sales over the next few years. “We believe that some segments of our online business have the potential for international development. However, it is too early to discuss specific plans. We cannot disclose strategic data for our long-term sales targets, either” explains Ewa Szmidt-Belcarz.

Empik is part stock exchange listed company the EM&F group, which has never published consolidated results for Empik and stores. However, its financial statement contains sales data for traditional and online shops. In Q4 2015 Empik’s outlets increased their sales revenue by 7 pct (to PLN 367 mln) compared to the same period the previous year, while for the whole of 2015 their results increased by 6 pct (to PLN 999 mln). The like-for-like growth in Q4 2015 amounted to 3 pct y-o-y and 2.1 pct over the twelve months of last year. Meanwhile the sales revenue of increased by 35 pct in the last quarter of 2015 (to PLN 86 mln) compared to the same period in 2014, while it grew by 39 pct y-o-y over the whole of last year (to PLN 225 mln).