Woolworths Expands Metro: Tailoring to Local Needs

Your local Woolworths may be undergoing significant changes as it intensifies its strategy to transform numerous existing stores into its smaller Metro brand.

This move has raised concerns among some customers, fearing a reduction in everyday items, an increase in self-serve checkouts, and potential price hikes. A resident from Sydney voiced that this was a “misstep.”

However, Woolworths has assured that the Metro-styled stores will cater to all shopping necessities and continue to provide value. The supermarket giant emphasized that while their larger stores can offer an extensive range, the Metro conversions aim to adapt the product selection based on local demand.

For instance, in Alexandria, some low-selling general merchandise products were reduced, making space for products like a broadened Asian food range which was highly requested by the local community.

The Metro concept, introduced in 2013, initially consisted of smaller stores primarily located in central business areas or near significant transit points. Initially, they focused on “grab-and-go” items. Now, the idea has evolved, with several larger Woolworths stores also adopting the Metro banner. These newer Metro stores provide a broader product variety but might not feature in-store bakeries or full-service deli counters.

By 2022, 90 out of nearly 1000 Woolworths stores operated as Metros, a number which has risen. Sales reports from 2023 indicate that Metro stores witnessed a sales jump of almost 22%, compared to a 5% increase in regular Woolies.

Other supermarket chains like Coles and Aldi are also exploring similar compact store formats.

Despite the evident success of the Metro format, there have been reservations. The Mayor of Inner West Council, Darcy Byrne, expressed concerns about the only full-sized Woolworths in Balmain being converted to a Metro, given there’s already a similar store in Rozelle. He stressed that it could negatively impact the local economy.

However, many customers have appreciated the convenience offered by Metro stores, allowing them to quickly shop for essentials and meals. While Metro stores are expanding, larger Woolworths stores with spacious parking areas will continue to be prevalent.

Woolworths aims to ensure the community that the revamped Metro stores will be tailored to meet local needs, offering fresh ingredients and specialty ranges. They have also maintained that pricing will remain competitive, although there have been instances where product prices varied between regular and Metro outlets.

It’s worth noting that not all Metro locations have flourished, with some closing due to reduced foot traffic, especially during the pandemic. Woolworths acknowledges that these transformations require time and has pledged to keep its customers informed through in-store staff and community sessions.

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