Walmex is a publicly traded company (30% trades in the Mexican Stock Exchange and 70% is owned by Walmart Inc.). It entered the Mexican market through a partnerships with Cifra (who Walmart later acquired to form Walmex). Cifra had different formats of supermarkets which gave Walmart a strong retail presence but also the need to adapt their business model to existing stores instead of building all their stores from the ground up. Walmex has been incredibly successful in doing this achieving a 12.4% CAGR in sales and 13.7% growth in EBITDA over the last 10 years.
This analysis will focus on the business and operating model of the supermarkets division that has three main formats in Mexico (85.9% of their business, the rest is in Central America).
The sales of the company in 2014 were mainly driven by their supermarket business:
- Supermarkets (76% of sales)
- Bodega Aurrera (42% of sales)
- Walmart (27% of sales)
- Superama (7% of sales)
- Sam’s Club (20% of sales): Price Club
- Retail Stores (3% of sales): Suburbia (retail store for lower income consumers).
Walmex provides a supermarket store for every type of consumer in Mexico, for this Walmex has three distinct supermarket brands each targeted towards consumers of different income. They value differentiating the business models of their three formats to avoid cannibalization and to create and then capture value from every Mexican. The three formats are the following:
Bodega Aurrera: “The champion of low prices”
- Value proposition: price
- It is targeted towards lower income consumers (E and D)1. The business model is to have the lowest priced products in the market even if variety is low; their ads are about “using pocket change to feed your pantry” because a big percentage of their sales comes from consumers in the informal job sector who are paid in cash. Their mascot is Mama Lucha (a Mexican female wrestler mom) that fights for prices.
Walmart: “Everyday low price”.
- Value proposition: Price and variety.
- It is targeted to middle income consumers (D+, C and B). It sells at a great variety of general merchandise and grocery products at everyday low prices.
Superama: “Always thinking of ways to benefit the client. Quality and freshness… every day.”
- Value proposition: quality, convenience and service.
- Targets higher income consumers (C+, B and A) with fresh and high quality products. Stores are convenient and service is key.
Store Layout: The store layout and location is one of the key differentiators of the operating models among the brands. The Bodega Aurrera stores are ugly, low key, full of boxes (even on the aisles) and are located in low income urban neighborhoods. On the other extreme, the Superama stores are always clean, everything is custom made and has a really high-end look. The size of the stores also varies: Walmart focuses on variety so they have big stores (7,700 m2 on average), Bodega Aurrera are smaller (4,240 m2 on average) while Superama is the smallest (1,500 m2 on average) and focuses on convenience.
Inventory Management: The inventory management aligns to the business model of the different stores. Bodega Aurrera has 32k SKUS, Walmart has 90k SKUs and Superama 30k SKUs. The great variety in Walmart is appealing to the consumer while in Superama the smaller number of high quality products makes shopping easier and convenient for professionals.
Distribution network: They have 13 distribution centers in Mexico, 6 of which are located on the Mexico City area where the majority of their stores are located. Their distribution facilities are state of the art with automated sorters that allows them to distribute 4M boxes per day. The number of stores of different formats nearby allows them to lower their cost of transportation by optimizing the trips per truck and clustering deliveries by areas for the smaller stores.
Suppliers Management: Buyers are organized by business units (perishables, pharmacy, etc.) instead of by store format. Since they serve every type of client, this allows them to buy a variety of SKUs from the same supplier (they buy the premium packaging and also the low cost packaging) consolidating volume and achieving a higher bargaining power.
One adaptation they have for the Superama Model is the Local Pride program. Since Superama’s value proposition focuses on the freshness of the product they instituted this program to buy fruits and vegetables from local producers. This program has several advantages for Walmex; buying from local producers achieves shorter lead times and can get quality product faster to the shelves. They also advertise the benefits they have for the local communities for a more socially conscious consumer.
With these differences in the operating models Walmex has been able to capture value from every type of consumer in Mexico.
Sources (in Spanish):
- Mexican socioeconomic definitions by AMAI being A, B,C, C+, D, D+, E (lower income): http://www.inegi.org.mx/rne/docs/Pdfs/Mesa4/20/HeribertoLopez.pdf
- Superama website: http://www.superama.com.mx/superama/quienes-somos.aspx
- Walmex, our business: http://www.walmex.mx/assets/files/Presentaciones/2015/ESP/Walmex-Panorama_ESP_(Sep-10-2015).pdf
- Walmex presentation for investors: http://www.walmex.mx/assets/files/Presentaciones/2015/ING/Walmex-UBS-presentation-(November).pdf
- Walmex 2015 Call for investors: http://edge.media-server.com/m/p/yun9qja2/r/1/lan/es
- Walmex 2014 Annual Report: http://www.walmex.mx/informe/2014/pdf/WALMEX_2014_ESP_completo.pdf