A new low-cost supermarket brand is arriving in France, which promises to offer prices up to 10% cheaper than other brands via a supplier partnership model.
Named Toujust, the brand was created by Fabrice Gerber, a former hypermarket director who has previously worked with Aldi, Leclerc and Système U. He said that the store’s margin is 28%, which it uses to calculate its prices.
The name Toujust is a play on the French phrase ‘tout juste’, which means ‘all fair’ or ‘just right’.
The supermarket is working directly with suppliers to secure lower prices for shoppers. It also shares 25% of its profits with producers and suppliers directly and cuts out as many ‘middlemen’ as possible.
Consumer prices will be at least 5-10% cheaper than those offered by competitors, Mr Gerber said. The difference could be significant for some items, especially as a 2022 study showed that the same basket of goods can vary by as much as 17% depending on brand and location.
The first store will open in Alès (Gard, Occitanie) in March. The group is planning up to 50 other stores around the country this year, including in Nord. It has even said it will aim to open up to 310 stores in the next four to five years.
In the first quarter of 2023, it aims to open eight sites, including in Lens (Pas-de-Calais), Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne), Saint Quentin (Aisne), Saint Maur (Indre) and Terrasson-Lavilledieu (Dordogne).
In a press release, Mr Gerber said: “In the context of an unprecedented economic and health crisis associated with a historic surge in the price of raw materials, the Toujust brand was born of simple observation and common sense: eliminating the intermediaries and their margins, which weigh down our shopping carts.
“This would make it possible to put suppliers back at the heart of our consumption, while offering as many people as possible the opportunity to eat healthily at a fair and accessible price.”
Locals told BFMTV that they will go anywhere that “has low prices and offers”, and that the cost of living crisis means that any successful supermarket “will need to be cheaper, because life is very difficult right now”.
One producer, Bruno Vif, a cow farmer from Allier, who is working with Toujust, said: “This supermarket looks like it will respect everyone, from the producer to the consumer, which has not always been the case for other shops.”
Jean-Marie Pigout, manager of meat production at the Tradition Terroir du Sud Ouest (TTSO) said: “They’ll sell things at a fair price because they will be partners, in a sense, so it’s win-win.”
The supermarket is eventually planning to have 7,000 products for sale, of which 80% will be food items, and 45% will be fresh. It says it will aim to have as many ‘Made in France’ products as possible.
It will also have a bakery and delicatessen with items cooked on-site, as well as a snacking area selling eat-in dishes inspired by street food.
Soaring food prices
The news comes as food prices have continued to soar in France, sometimes higher than inflation, at as much as 12% year-on-year in 2022. Some items may see a doubling of cost year-on-year in 2023.
Olivia Grégoire, the minister in charge of consumer affairs, has suggested that all supermarkets should sell a basket of 20 items at close to cost-price so as to enable shoppers on tight budgets to buy minimum essentials.
However, the idea has been dismissed as financially impossible by the head of the E.Leclerc brand, Michel-Edouard Leclerc.