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    MediaMarktSaturn boss continues to focus on city centers


    “Very German discussion”
    MediaMarktSaturn boss continues to focus on city centers

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    Karsten Wildberger is certainly worried about the renewed insolvency of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. However, the head of MediaMarktSaturn does not believe that his company will suffer the same fate. In fact, the company is planning to invest in new locations.

    Bankruptcies, a slump in consumption and moderate sales: stationary retail in Germany is experiencing difficult times. The electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn nevertheless wants to rely on its stores in the long term. “We are continuing to invest in city centers and will continue to be present there in the future. That is why we are always looking for new locations,” said Karsten Wildberger, head of Ceconomy and its subsidiary MediaMarktSaturn. The electronics chain has a good 400 stores in Germany with almost 20,300 employees.

    For Wildberger, the debate about the lack of attractiveness of city centers is a “very German discussion.” He sees many examples of successfully designed city centers in Italy and Spain. “In the Netherlands, this is very successful in the retail sector; the city centers look great.” There, investments are made in cleanliness, accessibility and good parking facilities. There is a real mix of shops and restaurants, many places to linger and a different awareness. This is just as possible in Germany. “We also have beautiful city centers, but inspiration is often lacking.” Retailers and politicians are called upon to make them more attractive.

    Wildberger is concerned about the renewed insolvency of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof and expects it to have an impact on city centers if the department store chain has a smaller presence there. “I don't want to speculate about the reasons. Every company has to find the right way to reflect the changed customer behavior in its business model.” He says he does not expect Media Markt and Saturn to suffer the same fate. “We have to offer customers what they are looking for on all channels. People have higher expectations these days. We have to live up to that.”

    The electronics retail chain had a lot of catching up to do, said Wildberger. Now he sees the company in a good position. They have invested in employee training, renovated half of the stores and introduced experience areas. Customers can try out vacuum cleaners, not just look at coffee machines but also test them, and young people can play computer games in special areas. “We offer customers an experience in the store and see that it is well received.”

    Cross-channel business model

    Wildberger does not believe that it will become more difficult to attract visitors to the stores. It is important to be able to look at products, try them out and compare them. “Customers often get much more information from a specialist advisor in the store than they can get online.” He is relying on a cross-channel business model. The integration of online and stationary business is working well. 38 percent of customers pick up the goods in the stores and then go shopping. Wildberger sees an advantage for his business area: “Technology will increasingly influence people's lives. The trend is therefore very positive for us.” At the same time, the need to find one's way in a complex world is increasing.

    Wildberger is following the spread of Chinese online shops like Temu with interest. Many of the Asian companies rely heavily on social commerce. “They sell their products very specifically to target groups via social networks like Tiktok and other platforms or use influencers. We can learn a lot from that.” However, all providers must ensure that they adhere to European laws. “The implementation of the regulations on import regulations, sustainability and supply chains must be guaranteed. We need the same rules for everyone.”

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