Worked in this fantastic country and experienced the retail changes first hand.
What have you done in Mexico?
Worked there to change the retail strategy of a global brand manufacturer. This forced us to develop a good insight in the Mexican retail market, as this manufacturer is dependent on the big box retailers as well as the convenience store chains and the abundance of mom-and-pop stores.
Do you speak the language?
We know enough retail -Spanish to get by in the street. On the management floor of the Mexican companies English has never been a problem.
How far along the trend of retail-development is Mexico?
It has passed the tipping point from a developing to a developed retail market. It’s home to giants like Comercial Mexicana, Liverpool and Walmart with their subsidiaries Bodega Aurrora and Superama. Impressive expansion of large retailers and shopping malls. At the same time there is still a lot of mom-and-pop retail about and street vendors at every traffic light. The hypermarkets have done their usual bulldozing work in the transition from traditional to modern retail. As can be expected in the next phase, convenience stores and discounters are opening close to the people. Mom&pop stores are wiped in the wake of these developments.
What’s the special challenge for international retailers in Mexico?
Consumer credit is an indivisible part of general retail in Mexico. We found the same in other countries in the same state of development, like South Africa. There is a certain tension between the formal and informal way of doing business. You have to be careful where you go, in a country that is filled with very friendly people at the same time. Our car got stuck in overheated tarmac of a parking place between. Try to get out with tyres filled with that slippery hot black stuff. A bunch of friendly Mexicans finally got us out with a lot of effort. But the informal way of doing business here and there might be difficult to reconcile with the formal bureaucracy of a large international company.