One of the five largest grocery retailers in Slovenia, Engrotuš operates a wide variety of formats including hypermarkets, supermarkets, c-stores, cash & carry, drugstores and grocery e-commerce. The market is not an easy one: Mercator and SPAR dominate, with Lidl, Hofer (Aldi) and Eurospin adding the usual discount disruption, so Engrotuš faces a rather stiff challenge in terms of defending its market share.

It has done so through a significant store refurbishment programme, an ongoing focus on private label development and trading off being a local business: it notes that around 70% of its assortment is sourced from Slovenia and it heavily promotes its ‘Slovenian Goodies’ range.

Engrotuš has its roots in the city of Celje but has expanded outside of its heartland, therefore enabling me to pop into one of its Tuš supermarkets on my recent trip to Ljubljana. The store was located in a residential district with local competition provided primarily by Mercator.

I’m not going to pretend for a moment that the store was a stunning thing of beauty, but it was not without a certain charm and there was plenty to admire in terms of good old-fashioned trading. My best guess would be that Tuš is positioned somewhere between SPAR and Mercator at the upper end and the discounters on the value-driven end of the market and it seems to have settled as a thoroughly decent mid-market neighbourhood retailer.

The store itself was pretty smart – very clean and tidy, if a little utilitarian – with many nice touches of branded promotions and shopper marketing. A green décor, tiled floor and fluorescent strip lighting made for a relatively unglamorous environment, but I guess that Tuš is all about proximity, convenience and value rather than trying to offer up a Whole Foods experience.

The produce section was compact and efficient, leading into a nice chilled food area that led towards a very good bakery / food to go section. The two most striking features throughout the store were the private label proposition and the very strong pushing of the Tuš Klub loyalty card. The mainstream Tuš private brand was featured heavily – several end-caps were nothing but own label – while the Tuš Klub card was virtually omnipresent.

A large number of discounts were only available to cardholders and app users and many other benefits, such as exclusive competitions, non-food discounts (Delimano pans at the time of my visit), fuel savings and special offers with partner companies, were marketed across the store.

Also noticeable was the comprehensive deployment of branded promotions, fixtures and POS, such as the M&M’s display and branded beer chillers and coffee fixtures. Combined with plenty of promotional pallets, the sense of value was never far away.

The service counters were done well and there was also a nice-looking café at the front of the store too. Availability, standards and service were all great and the store was doing brisk business for a Thursday morning. All in all, a jolly good store.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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