A growing trend of supermarkets offering online food shopping and self-drive pick-up in France will push the number of retail warehouses up 30% in 2012, from 1,000 in 2011 to 1,300 in 2012, according to Savills data.
The international real estate advisor further expects the number of warehouse properties built or refurbished purely for e-commerce services to almost double from 180 in 2011 to 300 in 2012 and suggests that the trend is driving turnover of major French hypermarket retailers such as Auchan, Leclerc and Carrefour.
Savills states that the rise in demand is driven by the higher profit margin that hypermarkets who offer an e-commerce service can secure. The firm estimates that hypermarket profit margins without e-commerce are on average 2-3%, whereas food retailers operating a drive concept could achieve a margin of approximately 5%.
Lydia Brissy, European Research Director, says: "E-commerce is generating an increasing share of consumer spending in France, approximately 38 million last year. If e-commerce continues to expand at the same pace as recorded over the past four years we anticipate this figure to exceed 45 million by the end of 2012. Supermarket retailers are responding to this demand which is having a major impact on the warehouse market across France."
Savills notes that there are three types of self-drive service in France whereby consumers order online and drive to pick up their goods from warehouses. For the first consumers shop online and pick up their pre-prepared purchases directly from existing supermarkets, a service dominated by French supermarket chains Systeme U and Casino with more than 300 and 100 branches, respectively.
The second type sees a warehouse developed or refurbished next to an existing store out-of-town or within the city fringes, such as Leclerc's approximately 46 outlets and Auchan's over 40 stores. Finally an independent warehouse specifically for this service, and usually out-of-town, is built or refurbished where customers drive to pick up their order. For this format planning laws are less restrictive and it is cheaper to build, but location is key. Leading brands in this category, in terms of number of units, are Leclerc with approximately 62 warehouses and Chronodrive, part of the Auchan group, which has almost 40.
Lydia Brissy continues: "Retailers that use independent warehouses are cutting down on various expenses including staffing and delivery costs. Some supermarkets, such as Leclerc, are planning to extend the online shop and drive concept to non-food items such as leisure and multimedia products and expect e-commerce to make up an increasing share of their annual turnover."