International News - Delhaize moots German expansion for next year

Belgium-based food group Delhaize has revealed that a decision to expand in Germany may be made as early as next year.

The first Delhaize supermarket in Germany opened in Aachen, near the Belgian border, last month. The second, a convenience store, will open in the town's Pontdriesch district at the end of this year.

A spokeswoman said Delhaize could make a decision on expansion next year based on the performance of the first two shops.

Despite the poor retail climate in Germany, she said Delhaize has already had experience with German customers and the initiative was not a significant risk.

She said: 'For us, going to Germany was a logical step. We already have a lot of German customers in Aachen that come across the border to our stores.'

Expansion would probably be in the Rhine-Westphalia region.

According to an IGD report, expansion by Delhaize in Germany would be 'gradual'.

'Discounters have a growing command of the German market, nonetheless Delhaize is confident of providing a successful alternative with its offer of high quality fresh food and a convenient shopping environment,' according to the report.

However, it warned, Delhaize 'will need to assess whether German consumers will respond positively and swap from discount shopping to its more upscale format.'

The report said Delhaize's European expansion may also target Italy and Spain, where the supermarket sectors remain fragmented.

Privately-owned Italian chain Esselunga, which has 112 shops, was mooted as a possible fit with Delhaize.