Cozmo vs Safeway: the Jordan retail revolution

23/4/2006

Cozmo Safeway

Yesterday I was hunting around town for a full-automatic espresso machine (and that’s a whole story by itself). So after checking out the Lavazza shop (who sell Saeco machines) I decided to try my luck and see if Safeway (7th Circle branch) or Cozmo sell such machines (they don’t by the way).

Why even consider Safeway? This would have been a good question just year ago.

I once swore I would never set foot in a Safeway store in Jordan again in my life. I honestly though that the company will go out of business soon. I thought that the Kuwaiti investors who bought the chain would soon have to close it.

That was around the time when the high-end supermarket Cozmo opened near Safeway’s 7th Circle branch. Cozmo’s selection, presentation and advertising and, most importantly, their overall shopping experience was miles ahead of Safeway’s outdated brand of retail. While Cozmo was busy becoming the new ‘Ahlia Abella’ (i.e. the supermark of choice for well-to-do Ammanis), Safeway’s image was being driven into the ground. It was depressing.

So what made me go there today. Well, it’s just one word: the renovation!

It took a long time to come together and, until a few months ago, Safeway still had problems with their cashier and customer service staff (slow, unresponsive, etc). But, I am now convinced that our next shopping trip should give Safeway a chance: wide aisles, a huge selection, good lighting, a sushi bar (!) and even a full fledged restaurant. The transformation of Safeway is complete. At least from the looks of it, as I didn’t really test the staff today :) /

Normally, one would not visit both Safeway and Cozmo in the space of 30 minutes. But today I did. Remember I was hunting for an item, not doing the weekly shopping. Something struck me. Upon walking into Cozmo, it actually felt outdated! The lighting was decidedly dull. Compared to Safeway’s new, clear, multicolored signage and presentation, Cozmo had elements of tackiness creeping in (like the illustrated walls near the elevator).

Now, I have to say that Safeway was pretty empty, compared to the crowded cash registers at Cozmo. It is clear who is doing better business. But if Safeway decide to follow the renovation with proper marketing, good prices and consistency of service, I am sure they will win over part of the market again.

They are even trying a bit harder with their Safeway Express small-store concept. Their new Express store, which is part of the newly opened JomoGas/McDonalds/Bakery complex on airport road, isn’t half bad.

In any case, all Jordanian supermarkets, large and small, must be really nervous right now. The internationals are coming to town. The Spinneys sign on Mecca Mall was just a false alarm (the deal fell through apparently over the inclusion of a liqueur store in Spinneys. After all, how can you sell whiskey in MECCA Mall??).

But Carrefour is coming. These people don’t joke around. If you’ve been to a Carrefour you’ll know what I mean. It’s HUGE. And knowing how Jordanians always like to go to the ‘new thing in town’, the incumbent supermarket chains better watch out. HELLO C-Town?

One thing I’d hope we’ll see come out of this is a drop in prices. It is absolutely ridiculous that Amman is most expensive city (measured by level of income) in the WHOLE ARAB WORLD. While the current players in the retail space are doing well (seems that the Middle Class is not entirely dead, eh? :) ), prices need to drop to expand the market of Jordanian shoppers. Let’s hope that competition does translate into better prices for all of us.

19 Comments

  1. Jano says:

    I guess Carrefour will be the best, havent seen them but knew alil about the way they work – business related, so i think they will rock.
    about safeway, i saw the ground floor its really amazing! but i dont rem seeing the first floor..

    C’town are the worst with everything, even with the cashier ppl that should be most trained to deal with customers..
    Cozmo was cool as i rem cuz its been ages havent gone there, i dono about now.. but still i guess they need to make branches.. i guess it was just good ads at first then they forgot about it..

  2. Jano says:

    (add this to prev comment) about the machine, order it from Italy, dad got one from there but i guess its not automatic and i hate coffee :)

  3. sabri says:

    and i kept wondering what ever happened to that Spinneys sign :)

  4. Pheras says:

    First, I wanna say that I love your comments and posts on retailing and shopping (my favorite past time).

    I think that brand loyalty will make it’s word especially in the Hypermarket/Superstore industry. For instance, Plaza (which was Ahlia Superstore) has it’s own very loyal clients and are famous for their fresh meat. While Cozmo relies heavily on expats and also differentiated itself in the market as a fine importer for Fish, they have special fresh fish days (in case you havent noticed it’s packed on Monday and Thursday).

    Carrefour will have quite a hard time to position itself in the market, as the vast majority of Jordanians are somewhat intrigued by foreign brands and assume that their prices are skyrocketing. That’s the problem that Cozmo had encountered upon it’s launch in Jordan. However, the well traveled Jordanians wouldn’t be so hesitant at all.

    Yeah, I’ve heard that Spinney’s had differences with Mecca Mall, not only because they wanted to obtain a license for selling alcohol, but only they had some concerns about Mecca Mall’s policy (Mecca Mall wanted to ban young males from entering the mall, which would result in all these young guys to block the entrance of Spinney’s). So the deal was off, a big loss for the Kurdi Group. However, Mecca Mall’s days are over, their cinema sucks, it’s crowded at night and their clothing departments aren’t so impressive, nor their restaurants, the only restaurant that’s worth checking out is Macherroni’s (since it’s the only place that doesnt serve Fast Food!).

  5. Khalidah says:

    I can’t wait for Carrefour to open as the shopping experience there is completely different .. with their cash and carry policy; their prices should be the best in the market .. but I guess we will have to wait and see :)

    I agree on the prices being ridiculous and not suitable for the market .. competition will hopefully change that just like the telecom model in Jordan .. competition is good for the consumer

    I shop at Safeway regularly because it is on my way .. I have tried Cozmo a few times but comparing the prices with the others .. Cozmo is on the higher end so I resort to others … but Safeway really need to work on the customer service and competency of cashiers .. they are so slow and don’t know the ABC of customer satisfaction ..

  6. nasimjo says:

    So Lets See …
    Carrefour is something that many are waiting around and about… and i think jordanian will get crouded to feel its experience… Cozom’s entrance to the market wasn’t noticable then as i think CarreFour’s would be Mr Pheras…

    Plaza …. A nice and neat shopping experience, with loyal customers including my self! its the nice lil place where u can find everything …

    C-Town,,, not that fantastic experience , but they DO still have their wight in the market, their offers , and are always an option to consider.

    Cozmo, probably the richest shopping experice and, but ITS DAMN EXPENSIVE! Kilo Bandora b STEEN GERSH !! WAL 3AL DENIA!

    safeway, and yes, finally they are working out after a couple of lazy years …. the 7th circle’s “re-inovation” of their shopping experience is something that i do really like and respect … the are going also into the whole sale market, mentioning Zarqa’s branch in Street 36 that was switched from a lousy emty supermarket to a mini cash and carry …. and they are opening a BIIIIIG cash and carry store in MAGABLEIN in eastern amman…. but i personally don’t think it would be an alternative for Carrefour …

    what else … Alfarid! they do have a small cash and carry, kind of a dark grocary store :P those guys have lost it at all….

  7. David says:

    Just wait. Wal-Mart will rear its ugly head soon, and then no one will stand a chance.

  8. Mohammad says:

    well, this is my first time here so hi to all, actually I have one comment regargind carrefour, as my friend says, those ppl dont joke around! and those who knew about coops in gulf know exactly what I mean. more technically; I had worked with al futtaim and i know their policy do not believe in competetions in the first place, wait n see ;)

  9. ali hammad says:

    c-town is a leader who always will offer good prices clean stores and has locations all over amman for convenice.may allah reward them for being good muslims.plaza changed itd name 3 times from ahlia abaila to ahlia superstores than plaza.safeway also 3 times from safeway international safway one stop shop now safeway sultan.bbc markets closed down so did numan mall.it is enough c-town is always there with the same image and takes care of there customers.by the way muslim consumers should not shop at cozmo because of there liquor and pig products and whats so high end about that.do the right thing by the way i heard c-town makkah street and istaklal are opening soon.thats a great way to save shop at c-town my friends

  10. mustafa saab says:

    who is cozmo.i tell you who that is they sell expired products and have very high prices.my entire family shops of course you know where c-town where else.they were the first in jordan to make discounts and special offers and made it possible for regular jordaians to shop at supermarkets.i can shop in c-town and feel like royality.i entered cozmo once never again that store stinks and safeway 7 th circle i had to vomit.well good luck c-town and dont even worry about that french company they are doing bad all over the world anyway.

  11. nana says:

    I wonder! Why our comments are at all times negative towards any previous experience! Hating COZMO or even Safeway is not ethical in my opinion..
    They were number one at that time, the Q is still crowded in COZMO same in Safeway,
    Thus, I think it is a good idea to wait for the new retail revolution because it will never satisfy you
    We, only criticize our development and efforts!!!!
    You to judge!

  12. Roba says:

    I love Ctown! The one next to our house is quite small, always extremely busy, and quite a snap to shop at. Admittedly, they don’t have much of a selection, and a lot of their products are Jordanian- made which in a lot of cases drastically lowers the quality, making the trip to Safeway quite necessary every now and then.
    But man.. there’s no way you can go grocery shopping at Safeway or Cozmo and leave in 10 minutes, they’re too big.
    Quick Q, the Safeway on airport road is a Safeway or a Sultan brand thingy?

  13. John Lyons says:

    Although Cosmo is far from my ome, I will go there at least once a week for meat and cicken – My bad experience with Carrefour butchery tells me that more employees might help and using a number system would definitely help. I think the butchers are overwhelmed – maybe they could use an efficentcy expert to redesign the butcher area layout so customers could see ewhat is happening too.

  14. RAAD MUSA says:

    SIR:I AM A RETIRED GENERAL,I HAVE GOOD EXPERIENCE IN SECURITY,HR,OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT,BEST WISHES.

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    NAME: Raad Musa H. Abu Alsondus
    Date Of Birth : 16/6/1958
    Place of Birth: Amman-Jordan
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    Phone: +962-6- 5813662
    Mobile Phone: +962777713977
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    UNIVESITY FROM TO DEGREE OR EQUIVALENT
    Muta university Aug 1993 Aug 1994 Bachelor of military sciences
    Helwan University Oct 1977 Jun 1981 Bachelor of B.administration
    COURSES FROM TO CERTIFICATES OR DIPLOMA
    HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT COURSE Dec 2004 Jun 2005 DIPLOMA
    ENGLISH COURSE/AMERICAN UNIVERITY Dec 2004 Jan 2005 DIPLOMA
    HIGH MANAGEMENT COURSE Sep 1999 Nov 1999 DIPLOMA
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  15. Dear All,

    For any industrial reveloution I beleive in Technology, Analysis & Thinking, Good Marketing and qulified HR.

    Cozmo has based on those four critical success factors, i have not seen but quite sure that they carry out:
    1- Intellgence Business Suite for their Grocery Store processes – ex: MS Retail Management System RMS.

    2- i think they carry out Market Basket Analysis , Data Mining Analysis, Association Rules Analysis to predict the long term behavior of their consumers. that can easily lead them to successfully do the offers, kits, discounts, loyality cards, consumer levels, ..etc.

    3- i think they do good marketing stuff specially Digital Marketing activites that could easily attract the level of prestigous community they looking for.

    4- Absoloutly Their HR are well educated, qulified people that keep the business on track and squeeze every single possible JD for by smart thinking and well understanding of their consumer behavior based on data history/records on POS.

    the prestigous location of COZMO has helped them to easily market the business and attract the high scociety people that live in the western part of amman, although safeway has close location to COZMO but they could not make that success for their bad customer services provided in the grocery as well as bad planning for theit queuing system, unqulified staff who deal with the customer, allowing third party companies to get a locations inside their store in regardless what is the reputation of their business is.

    More details contact me
    Mohammad Hawamdeh, MSc, BSc, MBCS
    962 795 023932

  16. Dr Itum says:

    guys not all of those names ,have you seen Dukkan in dabouq its the talk of the town all competitors will disappear ,although the name is Dukkan but its a well organzed store and run by a young energentic guy who brought the idea to amman to serve local communities itssuccesful we should see more stores open soon ,Hurray to Dukkan

  17. Dana says:

    I’ve always preferred Safeway because they tend to carry items that are hard to find in other stores, especially high quality imported products, but I wasn’t too happy with their customer service.

    But lately I’ve noticed that there is a lot of improvement in customer service, they have nice offers on fruits and vegetables during the week, and I love their weekend deals on meats, great for people who want to have Mashawi, and Manasif.

    With their new free loyalty card, I figured I can get a lot of points buying my everyday groceries, and I can imagine how I will add up when I upgrade my TV, washing machine, fridge etc. that they have a great selection in their wholesale in Maqabalean.

  18. Sam says:

    Seven years on and its still hard to find a good espresso machine in Amman!

  19. Dee says:

    Hi. I am English and would just like to say that after a trip to Safeway (7th Circle) I doubt I will be visiting again. The prices are disgusting and the staff may as well just stay in bed, They haven’t a clue about anything and just seem to stand around all day chatting amongs themselves. A box of Kelloggs Cornflakes is almost 5 JD whereas back in England they cost around £1.60 which when calculated using a currency converter is is way over double the price. Safeway used to stock the good old OXO Cubes and English Shepherds Pie mix, but no not anymore, everything is just about the arab cooking unless you want a small bottle of Heinz Salad cream priced again at almost 5 JD when I would normally pay just £1.00 GBP and my favourite magazine that costs just 85 pennies in England costs 7.95 JD here. Carrefour is much better but still I cannot get what I go for although I have known them to stock the occasional items I want one week, they seem to vanish within days and never return. Strange as Carrefour is a french company !

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