How frozen Picard adapts to soaring costs and inflation

Arrived in the midst of Covid uncertainty, the CEO chained the construction sites…

Arrived in the midst of Covid uncertainty, the CEO has chained the projects to revitalize the Lille brand “favorite of the French” which to date has 6,500 employees and 1,073 stores throughout France, including 80 in the region. His first observations reveal to him the priority missions.

“Not armed in the face of the Covid crisis”

“In 2020 we were not equipped to face the Covid crisis. Online sales of frozen products have exploded +64%. But Picard was not equipped to deliver France and sometimes offered six weeks of lead times. It was not acceptable”. After three months of listening to consumers and her employees, she and her management team, whom she helped to strengthen by recruiting talent, present Picard’s development strategy and transformation plan.

“We have developed a new customer relationship tool, worked on loyalty and today the brand exists on e-commerce,” she says. “We achieve 5% of our annual turnover (around 1.7 billion euros, editor’s note) in e-commerce, which is three times more than two years ago, but we are now aiming for 10% by 2026 in order to catch up the average for the frozen food distribution sector,” explains the CEO.

Energy: The hunt for waste is open

A leader faced with a key problem: from one end to the other, the frozen food chain is energy-intensive. At a time when energy costs are soaring, Picard, which manages 53,650 freezers (50 per store on average), is deploying solutions to best absorb the blow and the costs. “Between 2012 and 2020 we reduced our electricity consumption by 10%. We no longer have a fridge without doors. Even before the current outbreak we were aiming for a further reduction of 10%. It goes through actions and tests,” explains the CEO.

“Between 2012 and 2020 we reduced our electricity consumption by 10%. We no longer have a fridge without doors.”

The brand has thus tripled its budget for replacing freezers that are now more sober. It deploys the installation of energy voltage reducers… “You should know that we all sometimes receive 240 volts in our electrical outlets when we only need 220. The reducers feed the energy back into the network. It’s 5% energy saved, ”she says. Some stores are equipped with photovoltaic panels. “We succeeded, in a Toulouse store for example, in covering 30% of our needs”. Another promising test: programming freezer temperatures at -21°C at night versus -23°C or -25°C during the day when they are regularly open. “The tests show that we save 5% in consumption without altering the products”, assures the one who fears the electricity bills of 2023.

Measures in favor of purchasing power

Bills from Picard customers are also soaring and faced with tensions on household purchasing power, the brand is deploying its strategy. “We have clearly increased prices, but less than our private label competitors in frozen foods. We are not reducing the quantities offered, we are developing our recipes. For the end of the year, a period of high consumption, foie gras is no longer included in our stuffing recipes, for example. Smoked salmon will be replaced by smoked trout. We do not cut corners on innovation, taste and product quality. We explain to our suppliers that we are committed to the long term and to ever larger quantities with regard to the development of our store network. We remind our customers that we are an asset when it comes to purchasing power. Frozen products represent less than 1% food waste, compared to 20% for fresh products”, argues Cathy Collart-Geiger, who is also counting on her loyalty program, her 300 products at less than 3 euros and menus at low prices. controlled to boost sales without penalizing household budgets too much. Will this be enough to remain the favorite brand of the French in 2022?

(1) 2021 study by the independent strategy consulting firm OC & C. Picard is ahead of the Decathlon and Leroy Merlin brands. This had not happened to her since 2014, when she was then ahead of Amazon and Yves Rocher

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