Turkish grocers in Germany generate more sales with fewer but larger stores. Meanwhile, international companies are interested in the market. However, detailed market data is missing.
“Turkish grocers in Germany are making more sales, with fewer shops,” said economist Prof. Tanju Aygün at the business day of the German-Turkish association ATIAD in Düsseldorf. Accordingly, the companies in 2009 with 3,500 stores generated 3.8 billion euros, in 2016 with 3,000 stores already 4.2 billion. In comparison: The German food retailer made a total turnover of 242 billion euros in 2017. And something else has changed: the number of small stores has declined. The number of stores with 400 to 800 square meters of retail space has increased.
“Turkish food retailers have written a success story in Germany,” said Volkan Aydın of the Association of Turkish Grocers in Europe (ATGPP). They would have made it from worker to entrepreneur.
Success story in Germany
The billion-market is already in the focus of global players. “In the meantime international companies like Coca Cola, Reckitt Benckiser or Heinz Ketchup want to supply the Turkish supermarkets with their goods,” says Volkan Kuru, managing director of Marmara, one of the major suppliers of Turkish food. Negotiating with each retailer is difficult for the companies. Therefore, they wanted to work with companies with long market experience like Marmara.
Ortakalan editor-in-chief Babur Akyol criticizes that there are no figures and facts about the Turkish supermarkets. There would be no overview of all – with key data such as, names of managers and number of employees.
Öznur Altunbilek from grocer Altunbilekler, with over 80 stores in Turkey, said that retailers in Turkey have made enormous progress over the past twenty years. There were numerous supermarket chains that could compete with every chain abroad.
For a long time German supermarket chains sell Bulgur, Ayran and Sucuk. Are the Turkish stores in danger? Kuru is not worried about the future of Turkish stores. “Our regular customers are Muslim customers from Turkey, the Balkans and North Africa,” said the Marmara boss. And the main target group would continue to grow. For example, there are currently 20 million Muslims living in Europe, and 50 million in 2050.
Volkan Kuru, Marmara: “Offering a niche product in a niche market is difficult”
The biggest advantage Turkish retailers have over German food chains is the Halal meat counter. Food engineer Harun Şimşek came out of the audience and said that he would advise 200 Turkish grocers in southern Germany. Trained butchers would only work in three stores. Nevertheless, the meat departments would run very well, because the meat is very cheap.
No trend seems organic food. “It’s difficult to offer a niche product in a niche market,” said Volkan Kuru. Some Turkish retailers have tried to offer organic food, but they have “all failed”.