Right from the entrance, the scent of warm croissants and fresh coffee offers irresistible temptation to passers-by. Those who venture inside will find over 3,000 products as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. Several months ago, Iuliana and Costin Ghinea opened their LaDoiPași shop on the Strada Ion Campineanu in the heart of Bucharest. With a product range specially tailored to the local area, the small shop and its excellent service have quickly become a hot topic in the neighbourhood. The founders serve over 500 customers every day and the numbers are increasing.
Shop not café: making a virtue out of a necessity
Originally, the young entrepreneurs had quite a different plan in mind. The Ghineas wanted to open a stylish café in the 80 square metre premises. The location was ideal. Alongside schools and the university, tourist attractions like the National Museum of Art and the Romanian Athenaeum were just a stone’s throw away. But then, the coronavirus pandemic forced almost all businesses to close from one day to the next. Instead of crying over spilt milk, the couple stocked the shelves with it. A friend had told them about a promising franchise concept for small shops selling everyday products. They wasted no time in contacting METRO and applying. With great success! The company invited them to join the franchise concept LaDoiPași – in English ‘2 steps away’ – and advised them on how they could quickly and successfully convert their café into a small supermarket. Fittingly, it was on Own Business Day on 13 October 2020 that the founders first opened the doors to their own business. ‘Our product range and the welcoming atmosphere in the shop have quickly won us customers’, says Iuliana Ghinea. ‘Our customer base is growing continually and we are delighted with our success.’
Traditional trade plays an important role in Romania, where almost half of the population of 19.5 million live in rural areas. They do much more in the small, local shops than just buy food and everyday products. These nearby provision points are also a cosy place for catching up with a coffee and exchanging news. Since 2012, METRO Romania has been offering the franchise concept to entrepreneurs. Over 1,500 shops have since opened up with the orange-green logo. For METRO, too, LaDoiPași is one of their most important growth pillars. ‘We are continually refining the concept and adapting it as closely as possible to our franchise partners’ situation’, says Irinel Popescu, Retail Director at METRO Romania. The product range is individually tailored to the requirements of local customers. ‘The LaDoiPași own brand also supports franchisees in running a competitive business.’
Independent resellers like Iuliana and Costin Ghinea are a core customer group for METRO, along with professional customers from the HoReCa industry. Known as ‘Traders’, they have the distinction of being close to the end consumer; as an alternative to the classic supermarket, they were even able to win customers during the coronavirus pandemic (More on the topic: Traders as an Economic Factor: More Than a Target Group).
Success with the franchise model: rising sales
Iuliana and Costin Ghinea’s LaDoiPași is also flourishing. As part of the largest Romanian entrepreneur community, they are economically secure these days. Other shops are reporting good figures too. The overwhelming majority of franchisees have increased their sales since entering the system. ‘We help them to develop their business in an efficient and profitable way’, says Adrian Ariciu, CEO of METRO Romania. ‘LaDoiPași is a real success model for us all. In 2023, we will probably have over 2,000 outlets in Romania.’
Franchise in Romania: LaDoiPași
In the soft franchise model LaDoiPași, partners remain financially independent in their collaboration with METRO. To qualify as a franchise partner, they must meet certain requirements. For example, they must have a selling space of at least 60 square metres in a clearly visible and easily accessible location. METRO advises on product range planning and supplies the products. It also provides support for conversion measures and store design and helps with national marketing campaigns.