The supermarket format has become the laggard of the grocery industry as technology and changing habits have driven custom away from big stores, retail chiefs have warned.
Charles Wilson, the boss of wholesale and retail firm Booker, and Amazon vice-president Doug Gurr have said a structural shift away from the supermarket will allow new formats to thrive.
Wilson, who is former president of the IGD, said: “We have seen the hare of the supermarkets become the tortoise. It is expected the supermarkets will grow 8% over the next five years, the discounters 65%, convenience stores 29% and online 98%.”
Wilson, whose franchised Premier fascia has 3,000 shops, said the growth in discounters and convenience, as well as farm shops, delis and nutrition specialists, is putting pressure on the out-of-town supermarket which had flourished over the last two decades.
The number of Sainsbury’s Local stores overtook its supermarket shops with the opening of its 594th convenience shop last month while Kantar Worldpanel last week reported double digit growth at the German grocery discounters Aldi and Lidl in the last quarter.
Following a speech entitled ‘Growth Outside the Supermarkets’ to the City Food Lecture in London last night, Wilson said: “I go to Aldi and Lidl stores every week, they offer good quality food at good prices because the volumes they sell are much higher than the multiples.”
Gurr said: “Until recently there has been a clear winning way in which customers have connected to food through supermarkets and technology has changed that.
“We just work out the easiest way to get products to the customers. Just right now there’s new ways to get food.”
Gurr said that technology such as that provided by Amazon had allowed niche start-up retailers and suppliers to thrive.
He said: “Some of the retailers that are the most successful in this new world are those that have something magical that have not been able to get to market.
“It used to be that you could only get on supermarkets’ shelves if you were in the top 30,000 [products] listed but now you can build up a business through Amazon or eBay marketplace.”