This American chain revolutionises supermarket world in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
American supermarket Costco

The Spanish supermarket world needs to be shaken up, the average Spaniard thinks. That is exactly what the American supermarket company, Costco is doing. 

With impressive and innovative offers, a wide product range, competitive prices and new products, it is creating a true revolution. 

The time seems right: Spanish consumers have been complaining for months about the prices of the big supermarkets and it seems that drastic changes are needed. However, this does not mean that supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl will close their doors. But rather that in these turbulent times, they need to modernise and radically change the way they operate. This is especially true when it comes to prices. Many customers find the recent increase in certain products unfair. Consequently, social media have become the perfect platform for complaints. Mercadona in particular is suffering, customers find the price increases this supermarket has recently implemented excessive. Therefore ,this presents opportunities for an innovative provider. 

Costco’s special formula 

Costco is a chain of hypermarkets that offers a wide selection of products under the banner of “price club”. Only customers who pay for a membership are allowed to shop there. In return, the chain offers an enormously wide selection of leading branded goods with high quality standards, large quantities and the most competitive prices.  

Five stores in Spain 

In May 2014, the chain opened its first Spanish store in Seville, with the intention of expanding significantly. The second opening took place in October 2015 in Getafe. A branch also opened in Madrid (Las Rozas) in July 2020, while the fourth and, for now, last opened in Sestao (Vizcaya) in December 2021. According to various Spanish media, there are plans to open branches in Zaragoza and Málaga. 

In 2015, Costco España received a bailout from its US parent company to grow in Spain. A year later, it received another €77 million from the United States to offset losses from its first two stores in Seville and Getafe. In 2016, the US distributor’s Spanish subsidiary suffered a loss of €28 million. 

According to the company’s latest figures, Costco Spain had about 320,000 members at the end of 2020 and the stores were visited 1.5 million times. Each Costco member can enter the stores with two guests, although they cannot make purchases. In the same year, the company claimed to have 795 stores in 12 countries. 

About the company 

The company operates in Spain as a subsidiary of Costco Wholesale Corporation, a company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the United States. 

Costco Wholesale Corporation’s history dates back to 1976. The company was born as Price Club in an airplane hangar on Morena Boulevard in San Diego. In 1997,  it was given its current name. 

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