Billa development of an international retail brand

Brand building in the retail industry has today become a vital criterion for every retailer. Without a brand nothing can be done any more because we must create loyalty-provoking positioning as regards our customers, which, by its statement and also by being sharp and clear, in order to underline this unique brand.

Brand building becomes exciting when the most well-known national retail brand in Austria, BILLA, has to be internationalised. Here it is a question of clarifying whether the core values of the brand that are valid in Austria can be directly transferred to countries such as the Ukraine or Bulgaria.

Anyone who knows former eastern block countries, of course knows that here other core values must be placed at the forefront. Therefore, above all, the consolidation of quality criteria is a must for communication on all fresh produce groups. In countries such as Romania or Russia the exertion of influence of international retail chains is developing rapidly, however customers first have to be convinced of the difference in quality of the meat products. Frequently here directly in front of the door of a Billa market there is an open meat market offering very questionable hygiene conditions. Here Billa has to actively communicate to its customers all its quality assurance measures to clarify the difference in hygiene – a condition that Billa surely doesn’t have to stress to this extent in Austria.

Standardisation of POS is also part of the internationalisation of a brand. As the biggest supermarket – operating in 10 countries in Central- and Eastern Europe, Billa is currently expanding with markets of a size of 600 to 2500 m². The markets have been clustered according to size into different standard layouts and range sequences. These standards form the basis for the POS appearance. Thus, for example, markets in Vienna are designed according to the same principles as those in Moscow.

In order to stress the brand promise of Billa, the shop image reflects this directly. The customer is, independently of the size of the market, always guided first through all the fresh produce groups. This fresh produce area covers about 50% of the sales area. Here there are of course corresponding variations between small supermarkets and larger Billa markets similar to discount stores. The latter are characterised by a more liberal design e.g. the location of the fruit and vegetable section.

In order to stress the value for money aspect at Billa in every market there are promotions in the most frequented areas. Here, the best offers from the current flyer are displayed by a large presentation of the goods. In addition, the low-cost brand “Clever” is given sufficient space in all Billa markets for positioning.

To sum up, the management of an international retail brand works by creating standards that incorporate core values that go beyond national borders. In addition however, it is necessary to be able to react to specific national characteristics, for this a certain level of leeway is to be created.

Under the roof of EUROBILLA AG, based in Austria, all foreign activities in the supermarket section of the REWE Group in central- and Eastern Europe will be coordinated. The European expansion started in the beginning of the 1990‘s and increased step by step in the last years.
Meanwhile Billa is represented in Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Rumania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech, Ukraine and in Russia. Eurobilla AG is responsible for the production spreading management strategies as well as for the guidance of the countries and the disposal of regional teams of all countries as a service center.
Rewe group gained in the year 2006 in Italy and had a conversion of 1,91 Bln., in the central countries and East Europe a conversion of 1.61 Bln.

Since October 2007 Martin Gaber has been Eurobilla Business Development Manager and Marketing Manager. Before, Mr Gaber was project manager and Sales/Purchasing Coordination Manager at Merkur Warenhandels-AG, a subsidiary of Rewe Group Austria. Apart from having an economics degree, Martin Gaber also has a MBA specialising in retail.

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