Trader in Romania: Small stores on a growth course with METRO

She took the baton from her parents and, with heart and soul, is now guiding two LaDoiPași stores to success. Trader Mihaela-Simona Toma Enciu tells us why she gave up her career aspiration to become a singer – and how she is dealing with the current economic crisis and nonetheless looking to the future with optimism.

Trader Mihaela-Simona Toma Enciu

Ms Enciu, you’re on a real growth course: in the last four years, you’ve opened two grocery stores under the METRO franchise concept LaDoiPași. Tell us how you’ve done it.

The story begins with the family business my parents started here in Ovidiu, Romania, in 1992. Even as a child, I wanted to know where the goods come from and why some products sell better than others. Then, four years ago, my parents and I converted our shop-counter grocery into a LaDoiPași. And now we’ve opened a second one.

How have you managed to do this in such a short time?

METRO provided us with invaluable support in going from a shop-counter business to a self-service store. One of the most important tips that I picked up along the way is that in a self-service shop, the shelves have to be arranged so they lead the customers through the whole store. And low-priced products should always be easily visible. We’re in constant contact with the team from LaDoiPași and they assist us, for example, when new products are being introduced.

As a local supplier, we're right in the thick of things.

Mihaela-Simona Toma Enciu

2,000 stores

LaDoiPași is expected to become the largest network of independent entrepreneurs in Romania in 2023. In 2020, there were just over 1,300 stores. In 2021, the number grew to 1,700, and currently there are more than 1,800.

When did it become clear to you that you wanted to join your parents’ business?

I saw early on what an important contribution our business made to our local community – as a local supplier, we’re right in the thick of things. That fascinated me as a kid, and it made me proud. But still, my career path wasn’t predetermined. Originally, I wanted to become a folk singer, and I played the pan pipes. So when I graduated from school, I went to Ovidius University in Constanța and got a degree in music education. But the wish to continue the family business – and with that, a tradition – won out. Today, I receive customers in our stores whose grandparents shopped with us 30 years ago.

Inflation, rising costs ... there are a number of challenges. How is business at the moment?

The last two years have shown that a lot can change in a short time. We don’t know yet when the situation will get better again – but every downturn is followed by a growth phase. That’s what continues to give me confidence. One of the biggest challenges right now is finding the right staff. And retaining the 13 employees we currently have.

An optimistic look to the future.

We’re thinking about expanding further – with another shop, or maybe several. And we also want to continue modernising, because we want the customer traffic in our stores to move as smoothly as possible. Digital solutions play an important role in that – especially when it comes to reducing customers’ shopping time. Your rivals never rest, so it’s valuable for a small retailer like me to know I’ve got a strong partner like METRO at my side – and to always be close to our customers, right where they are, as part of the same community.

Strong partners for small stores

In the LaDoiPași franchise model, partners remain economically independent in their cooperation with METRO. For franchise partners, various requirements apply, such as at least 60 square metres of easily visible, easily reachable selling space. METRO advises partners in assortment planning and supplies the products, and also provides support in renovation work, in shop design and with national marketing campaigns. 
What makes up the trader market worldwide, what regional differences are there and why are independent traders particularly important to METRO? Get an overview: Traders as an economic factor: More than a target group

An assortment especially for professional customers. Own brands with excellent value for money and best quality. Local wholesale stores, Food Service Distribution (FSD), online marketplace and digital solutions tailored to the needs of the food service industry. METRO invests to support customers and make them even more successful. METRO's sCore strategy sets the goals until 2030. The successes are also reflected in the figures for the financial year 2021/22. To the annual report:

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