“We are going to lower prices and hire cashiers,” (Philippe Palazzi, CEO of Casino)

“We are going to lower prices and hire cashiers,” (Philippe Palazzi, CEO of Casino)
“We are going to lower prices and hire cashiers,” (Philippe Palazzi, CEO of Casino)

Casino is on the road to remission. Led for nearly 30 years by the charismatic Jean-Charles Naouri, the Saint-Etienne distribution group changed hands at the end of March. The new team at the helm is made up of the consortium of buyers, namely the businessmen Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, backed by the Attestor investment fund, and Philippe Palazzi, appointed by the new shareholders to the general management of the band. Arriving on March 27, the former number two of Métro and Lactalis did not wait to get to work. Objective: to develop a treatment as quickly and as accurately as possible to revive the Casino patient. The one who defines himself as a man of challenge revealed exclusively to Capital its strategic plan to relaunch the distribution specialist.

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Now that the group has offloaded almost all of its hypermarkets and supermarkets, all sources of losses resold to Intermarché, Auchan and Carrefour at the start of 2024, Philippe Palazzi is opening a new era for Casino with a scope now focused on retail stores. nearby (Spar, Franprix, Monoprix, Naturalia, Petit Casino, etc.). “We are leaders in proximity with more than 8,000 stores in France. We reach 42 million consumers every day. Today the positioning of our brands, with our strong brands close to the French, is consistent“, Philippe Palazzi tells us.

A budget of 1.2 billion euros dedicated to stores

But it is imperative to wake up the sleeping beauty. Aware of the urgency, the buyers have allocated a budget of 1.2 billion euros, for the period 2024-2028, which must be used to thoroughly renovate the stores.

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The priority of priorities? Lower prices, and not just a little. Under the Naouri era, products were sold up to 20% more expensive in Casino stores than in competitors! The result is a flight of consumers to cheaper brands. Philippe Palazzi is firm: “we must chase away the irritants. We have notably identified 200 references with killer prices“. He mentions, for example, a 2-liter bottle of detergent, sold for 15 euros. “It’s sometimes absurd“, he confides. On the other hand, do not expect price positioning similar to those of Leclerc or Intermarché. “We have high charges, particularly on city center rents, which are more expensive, but with exceptional locations», adds the general director. To boost the attractiveness of points of sale, this price reduction will be accompanied by a significant increase in the number of references with own brands (MDD) and local products.

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An investment in prices will also be made at the e-retailer Cdiscount, a subsidiary of Casino, with even more discounts and promotions. Asked about rumors concerning a possible sale of Amazon’s French competitor, the general manager told us that there was no news on this subject.

Cashiers and services

Another project: rehumanizing the points of sale. In short, stop using automatic checkouts, responsible, according to Philippe Palazzi, for a drop in sales of around 20% since their implementation. “The self-checkout does not smile at customers, unlike a hostess. There is also less room to place items, so consumers make smaller baskets», he explains. To support this transformation, the general director wishes to initiate a program to recruit “many” cashiers.

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Finally, Philippe Palazzi wants to offer more services in stores: boxes to store AirBnB keys, luggage storage, lockers to collect packages… The objective? Generate maximum traffic in stores to boost sales.

Keen to maintain its number one position in proximity, the Casino group will at the same time continue to expand the territory by focusing on the franchise model. 20 stores have already been inaugurated in this form since the start of 2024 and Casino wants to reach the milestone of 200 openings by the end of the year. “For the group to be successful, our franchisees must be successful. Reason why we must offer them favorable conditions to convince them to work and partner with us», explains Philippe Palazzi, who firmly insists on the fact that the heart of the reactor of the new Casino rests on the franchisees.

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Once the brand displays are modernized and redesigned, the results will quickly be there. Because the group must return to profitability. For the record, Casino recorded a net loss of 2.6 billion euros in 2023 on the activities it continues and 3.1 billion on those abandoned.

The seat of Saint-Étienne preserved

In parallel with these projects, Casino’s new governance must still finalize the employment protection plan (PSE), presented at the end of April. Between 1,293 and 3,267 positions are expected to be eliminated within the group. Although the blow is severe, the consortium has nevertheless kept its commitment to retain the historic headquarters in Saint-Étienne, where 1,000 jobs were saved, out of a total of 1,800.With the sale of supermarkets and hypermarkets, the Saint-Étienne headquarters lost 80% of its activity but we were committed to preserving employment», explains Philippe Palazzi. To meet this challenge, Casino management internalized some of the activities that had previously been outsourced, such as IT and customer service. Other functions have been shared, such as the payroll service.
But the total range of job cuts is still wide and depends on the future of the 27 large format stores (hyper and super) and the four logistics warehouses which have not yet found a buyer. “There are expressions of interest for several of them», says Philippe Palazzi, who adds that the deadline is set for the end of September 2024.

Read also :

Casino: find out which stores are becoming Intermarché, with a big drop in prices

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