Relay Swizterland invests in Retail Performance

Mar 10, 14 | by Benoit Mahé

The Swiss press distributor Naville invests in business performance

The Swiss group Naville, a specialist in the distribution and management of press and news products, has been leading a development strategy of the business performance of its retailers over the past year. Its goal? To provide support to a radically changing business with effective sales tools. CapKelenn, the world leader in Retail Coaching, is guiding the Naville teams through this change of approach.

“The willingness of management to develop the business performance of our retailers is a non-negotiable priority,” says Anne Hari, Agent Relationship Manager at Naville. “Everyone goes there, it’s not an option.” As a subsidiary of the French group Lagardère, Naville has 1,200 press retailers, of which 180 are under the banners of Naville, Relay, Hub Convenience, News Café and Hubiz, spread throughout the Suisse Romande. Approximately 250 employees work at the headquarters in Geneva. “The 180 retailers are now managed by agents, business partners,” points out Anne Hari. These retailers deal with 90,000 customers each day.

An economic model that develops ambitions

Indeed, since 2011, all Naville retailers located in the shopping centers or town centers of French-speaking Switzerland changed their business model. “Ever since 2005, we tested the transfer of the salaried employee status to agents responsible for our retailers,” continues Anne Hari. This is a method that allows enterprising personalities to show ambition and manage their own affairs while incurring low risk. “We hand them a key retailer, with the necessary stock. We guarantee the payment of the costs” says Anne Hari. The only remaining task for the agent is to sell the goods on which he is commissioned. In return, the agent is responsible for his staff.

A Retail Coaching program in place

However, Naville continues to support these 180 agents in the pursuit of business performance. It is in the interest of the agents and their teams. Since September 2013, 15 regional managers and trainers have followed CapKelenn’s Retail Coaching program. The training sessions take place over the course of three months and provide the teams with a comprehensive toolbox. “We knew there was the need for training. What was missing was the methodology, the toolbox,” says Anne Hari. For a start, dashboards have been developed in which are the key indicators of a retailer’s management – the units per ticket, the average basket, revenue and so on.” Now each agent organizes a weekly maintenance session with each of its sellers. Together, they analyze the individual dashboard. “This allows them to immediately put an action plan in place to improve the performance of the retailers, allowing us to increase business performance every day!” says Anne Hari.

A necessary diversification

Naville is not just a newsstand. The business has changed since its inception, more than a century ago. Retailers exist in different formats: from the smallest to the largest, now offering coffee, snacks and groceries. This diversification became necessary with the erosion of newspaper sales. “We buy less press than ten years ago, something that is especially true for newspapers,” says Anne Hari. “Weekly and monthly publications suffer less, as do magazines. Still, there are as many new publications coming out as those that disappear.” Also, the need to make the store profitable is seen on related products: chocolate bars, drinks, tobacco, lottery tickets, miscellaneous items and so on.” Before, managers were cashiers, providing a simple customer service. Today, they must have the skills and knowledge to advise clients on their specific needs.”

A changing business

A salesperson’s job now consists of advice and service. Change is not always easy to accept in a country where a few cultural barriers still exist. “We don’t like to bother the customers” jokes Anne Hari. In Swiss culture, suggesting a second packet of chewing gum at a 50 % discount would disturb the customer.” However, this is a gift that the customer is being offered. The business approach should be reviewed in this light.” It is essential to make the sales teams understand this new approach. Using its methodology and tools, CapKelenn managed to make sense of the Naville approach. “Now, regional managers and agent trainers monitor their retailers on a daily basis. They adopt a common language” adds Anne Hari. While it is too early to talk about the evolution of sales for these retailers (the roll-out of the approach as applied to agents ends in late March), the agents’ interest can be felt. They are now clearly motivated by this exciting challenge.

Article by Violaine Pondard

Business journalist

For CapKelenn

February 2014

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