To celebrate two decades of work, Super Vero is rewarding its consumers by launching a prize contest. On the occasion of this jubilee, we spoke with Marc Ernest Garofani, General Manager of Veropoulos, about expectations regarding the company, its offer, suppliers, development, the friendship between Serbia and Greece, and the expected prize draw.
This year, the Super Vero supermarket chain is celebrating 20 years of business in Serbia. Can you do a quick retrospective of the last twenty years? Have Super Vero’s expectations been met?
It is interesting to note that we were the first hypermarket chain of the European Union to come and invest in Serbia shortly after the terrible events of 1999. In 2001, when Mr Veropoulos decided to focus on the Serbian market, very few brands would have risked such an adventure. Today we have competitors who also come from the EU and personally, I find this beneficial for Serbia, but I am proud to lead the first large foreign distribution company to have come to invest in Serbia. We celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the first VERO but we were already present on the market at the end of the 2000s when Mr Veropoulos was personally studying the opportunities that Serbia offered us. We did not have a quantitative but qualitative expansion. We now have 6 stores (+1 Jumbo in Zemun-Park) in exceptional locations offering our customers proximity with all the advantages of a location located more on the outskirts (parking, large sales area).
We have achieved exceptional goals in our dimension. I don’t really like to use bombastic epithets because it sounds pretentious and lacks humility, but I can assure you that what I say is verifiable and therefore true.
New supermarket chains are arriving in Serbia, and competition is becoming fiercer. What does Veropoulos’ management do to keep existing customers or increase the customer base?
As I had indicated in the previous answer, two giant global retailers are present in Serbia and that is good for all the customers and the increase in excellence in terms of the quality of the offer and the variety of the assortment.
In addition, these multinationals bring new technologies and new concepts that are always interesting to observe. The local Serbian channels have also made a big leap forward.
As far as Super Vero is concerned, we also constantly innovate while keeping the “grocer” spirit. I mean by this that we are regularly listening to our customers (it’s easier when we have 7 stores) and we form our assortment and our specificity in direct synergy with our customers. We listen to them with great attention and we train ourselves to give them as much comfort as possible.
“Greece and Serbia have so much in common and the food is just one of the things that bring us even closer together”
We want to keep it simple and offer a unique experience to the Serbian market. Our managers are constantly consulted, and we give great importance to the initiative of our employees in our modus operandi. Managers, if they want to achieve notable results, must take into account all the parameters present in their environment and above all know how to erase and listen to collaborators who will bring the final touch which will allow you to slow down and win the set or the match. We must have a three-dimensional vision of the environment around us to better seize opportunities. The best way to achieve this is to be proactive.
How does the product offer in Super Vero stand out from other retail chains? Consumers are used to finding some products and brands in Super Vero that are not available in other stores. Will Super Vero continue to expand its number of suppliers and range of new products?
We are and will remain grocers. This means that we are closer to the reality in the field than to the algorithms telling you what to do. We live with and from the products that we sell. The advantage of our format is that we can state that we have successfully launched the „short-chain “. This implies direct cooperation with local and Greek producers, without intermediaries. We are going to look for the product where it is, it is not up to him to come to us but the reverse. My team and I travel thousands of km a year to find the rare pearl. And it works!!!
The opening of a large Super Vero shopping centre in Novi Sad has been announced. Do you know when will this happen? Are there any other new locations planned?
After several years of calm in terms of development (this strategy was voluntarily chosen by the owners of the company), we have with Mr Veropoulos and Mr Batayas to assure our expansion in the second city of Serbia, Novi Sad. We were exceptionally received by the local authorities and we started to explore the city and its surroundings from top to bottom. We discovered what was going to become our future location and after in-depth geo-marketing studies, we validated and bought this location. Our hypermarket will have a sales area spanning 12,000 m2, where our two brands, SUPER VERO and JUMBO will be present. As you probably know, we are exclusive owners of the JUMBO franchise for the Serbian market. The design of the store is, also as in Vero-Jumbo Novi Beograd, led by Schweitzer. It will be stunning.
Has the COVID pandemic slowed the implementation of the company’s plans and development?
Thanks to the extraordinary team that I lead, both in the stores and offices and this is something I will reiterate over and over again, we have overcome this terrible challenge with a success that has no equal in retail business in Belgrade. I have to congratulate the women and men who work at Super Vero and Jumbo for these achievements. In 2019, our results were in clear progression compared to 2018 partly thanks to the magnificent renovation of our store in Novi Beograd, while
in 2020, 2021 and 2022, the number of new customers has been constantly growing, partly thanks also to the launch of our loyalty card, which is now used by more than 100,000 shoppers.
We are humbled by this fact and are continuing on this journey which began 20 years ago with the same passion and the same enthusiasm.
Does the friendship between Serbia and Greece and the affection of Serbs towards Greece and the Greek people influence the company’s business? Serbs love Greek dairy products, olives and olive oil, halva, wines, Ouzo and Metaxa, and fruits and vegetables known for their top quality… Can we find any of these products on Super Vero’s shelves?
Greece and Serbia have so much in common and the food is just one of the things that bring us even closer together. Besides that, Greek food reminds customers of the great experience they had on their Greek vacation. In a way, people looking for the groceries from this beautiful sunny country are also looking to evoke good memories. It is double pleasure, as the products we import are the most loved among Serbs. Greek fruits and vegetables that grow in a country that has so many sunny days are so much tastier. But the quality we insist on is the main reason why customers keep getting back after buying some products because of curiosity or to
bring memories from vacation back. As we listen to feedback from our customers, we develop assortment in a way to satisfy the choosiest too. That is the reason why we have more than 600 products from Greece and continuously work on widening of range. The last we added was Ouzo, under our private label Vero. Its secret recipe with anise from Lesvos and other aromatic seeds from the Aeolian land is the exquisite heritage of the past.
The “Super Vero – We have been sailing together for 20 years” prize contest is in progress. The prizes include vouchers for vacations in Greece, Serbia’s favourite holiday destination. Can you tell us more about this sweepstake?
I would like to use this opportunity to thank all consumers, partners and employees for the first twenty years in Serbia. Thanks to you, the first foreign hypermarket in Serbia has been operating successfully for two decades, uniting the best of Serbia and Greece.
“We want to keep it simple and offer a unique experience to the Serbian market”
In that name, we dedicated the traditional Greek month to the celebration of the jubilee. Consumers have the opportunity to buy Greek products with a discount of up to 20% and participate in a prize competition and win a holiday worth up to 3,000 euros for two.
The winners will fly to a Greek island and will be accommodated in a five-star hotel. You can read more details about the competition on www.supervero.rs . We have been sailing together for 20 years and we intend to continue in the same style, providing consumers with a unique experience of pleasant shopping. In June, the experience will be complemented by Greek music in the markets as well as scenes from the Greek islands depicted on large billboards. Greek specialities, which recipes you can find on the aforementioned website, will be prepared in our supermarkets and you can find all ingredients for them in Super Vero.