Costco Hours
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January 22, 2017
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Costco, the second largest distribution group in the world, is expanding in Spain

Requires its customers to become partners and pay an annual fee to be able to buy
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Costco supermarket in Getafe. / SANTI BURGOS
Would you pay 36 euros a year to let you make the purchase in a hypermarket? It is the strategy of Costco, the second largest group in the world of distribution. This US company, very popular in North America and Asia, has been preparing its expansion in Europe for three years. He chose in 2014 Sevilla as the first port of landing for the mainland and now Europe, after also open in Getafe (Madrid), prepares its growth in a big way by Spain, with more shops in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia on a five - year plan. They already have more than 65,000 members in Spain, who pay an annual fee to be able to buy.

Costco is still unknown in Spain. However, with 100 billion euros in turnover, it is the second largest distribution group in the world, only below Wal-Mart and surpassing the French Carrefour. It is a giant thanks, above all, to its enormous implantation in the United States. In total it has 687 establishments at international level. They may seem few, but if you consider their square meters it is not: shops usually have at least 15,000 square meters. A medium-sized supermarket of the usual chains that operate in Spain is in the surroundings of 1,500 meters.

They sell food, bazaar items and even diamonds. "The thing about the coffins is a hoot," says the store manager

Diane Tucci, director of Costco in Spain, says that in Seville, where they have been a little over a year, they are doing very well. "We have exceeded all initial expectations." It advances that in five years will have in Spain "six locations". Seville and Madrid will be followed by Valencia and Barcelona. As for the rest of Europe, says Tucci, they are valuing "several countries" but is sure that "the first center in France will open soon."

About 50% of products sold in the Costco store in Getafe are dry food, another 10% or so of fresh food. And 40%, bazaar. The latter is a broad category: they commercialize televisions, washing machines, toys, carpets, mattresses. Urban legend says that in the United States they even sold coffins. "That's a hoot," confirms the manager. Coffins are not seen in Getafe. But they do sell diamonds, a few steps away from the detergent and the prepared food section. In the food part, the company claims, more than 40% of the products are from Spanish suppliers.

In Costco everything tends to gigantism. The sales space is great. Shopping carts double the usual size shelves are industrial. Even the products come, in general, in family size. The strategy of this operator is basic: to sell a lot of volume to make a profit even if they adjust the margins. The pots are in boxes of 12, the bottles of liquid detergent are for 126 washes and there are cans of fried tomato of five liters. "But we have adapted the packaging to reach the entire public. For a particular customer a five kilo mayonnaise jar may be impossible to store in the refrigerator. That is why we asked the manufacturer to also make packages with equivalent amounts but in several small containers, "explains Angel Mesas, manager of the Getafe store.

Being a partner, mandatory to buy

The main difference with any other chain is that at Costco you have to be a member to be able to buy. And to be a member and get the card that allows access to the store, you have to pay an annual fee: about 36 euros for individuals and 30 euros for professionals. In return, it is assumed that everything has very tight prices. Before opening they made a subscription campaign with discounts. In Getafe they inaugurated the store on Saturday, October 24. On Monday they had 12,000 members. And in Seville they claim to have about 53,000. That is, more than 65,000 people pay their annual fee. With each of these fees the company offers two cards, so there are more than 100,000 Spaniards with access to Costco at this time.

Spain is its first stop in continental Europe. Finally, his arrival in France

Does it compensate the savings with the payment of 36 euros a year? The store manager has no doubts. The employee who works doing cards at the door, obviously, either. But at the exit of Getafe's shop, Jocelyne, a client who had just opened her sister's card with her partner, had some doubts. "Yes, there are good prices, and it's okay, but you end up buying a lot of things that you do not need, you hit with very flashy products, so you leave with a long bill," he said with laughter with a sense of guilt. It pointed to the cart, size XL, full of products. A box of 36 beers, packs of diapers, juices, two blankets for the sofa, some clothing and several bottles of food of family size.

260 people work in the Madrid shop, more or less like Seville. "We got about 15,000 job applications," says Tables. The group will open in Barcelona and Valencia, and also in other points of the Community of Madrid. "In Spain there is room for many operators, here and abroad," he says.

A store with an industrial warehouse

When entering the shop of Getafe the sensation is to accede to an hangar of airplanes. Or an industrial warehouse. High ceilings, cement floors and shelves with the height of small buildings follow. The space is quiet, with no ambient music. And broad, with corridors through which can pass several of the huge cars. The products are placed directly on pallets or large boxes. "Costco is above all efficient. The pallet format makes it easy to replace it constantly and there is always a lot of product available", justifies the manager.

The warehouse appearance, he acknowledges, can shock customers the first time they arrive. "But then they get used to and appreciate the organization and cleanliness we maintain," he says. As he walks and teaches the store, the manager places it by lining up the cookie packs on the shelves. Costco's gigantic concept is in its DNA, configured in the United States.
costco hours

"There the distances are bigger and they are accustomed to travel many kilometers to make purchases shopping for the whole month", defends. In Spain, he says, there is also room for this format. "To start with, because the economy starts to rise and people start to lose their fear of consumption, but also because the Spanish work more and more and value the leisure time.Make a big purchase one day avoid going to the supermarket many times" , He says.

costco hours

The US company clearly uses some products hook to attract skeptical. They import Levi's pants that sell on sale for less than 40 euros. It has an assorted wine cellar with discounts: they sell from table wine of less than one euro to Vega Sicilia Unique from 2007 to 189 euros the bottle. The complaints are necessary, because among other things, to get to Costco de Madrid you have to take the car.

Costco is in Getafe, but not in the center. The ship, which will also soon house the giant's headquarters in Spain, is located in the Los Gavilanes business park. Public transport does not arrive and there are roads and a secarral. Neither restaurants nor leisure areas nearby. To attract potential customers from nearby towns, it has set up a low-cost gas station. The gas was worth Monday 1 euro for partners and 1.06 euros for the rest. The diesel, 0.88 euros for members and 0.93 euros for those who go for free.

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