COSTCO: US giant to arrive in France by 2015

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Costco Wholesale Corporation, the third largest worldwide retailer and fourth largest in the US, is to open in the Paris region in the autumn of 2015 at Villebon-sur-Yvette, in the department of Essonne. This first store, which will also host the retailer’s headquarters for Costco France, will cover a total of 12,000 m2 and employ 300 people. In the States, Costco specializes, among other things, in the distribution of assistive hearing devices through a network of more than 400 centers.

In an interview published in Bloomberg Businessweek (July 2013), a specialist weekly economics magazine, the Vice-President of the brand, Richard Chavez, declared (with a hint of irony): “the sale of hearing aids generates a lot of revenue for us. We’re now one of the largest—if not the largest—hearing-aid distributors in the market, but I really don’t want anyone to know that.”

The company’s records show that on average, the sale of hearing aids has increased by approximately 26% per year. The company owns a total of 627 stores across the U.S., and sells brands such as Bernafon, GN ReSound, Kirkland (retailer’s own brand), Rexton, and as of this year, it also sells devices from the Swiss Phonak. Within the next ten years, the U.S. giant and wholesale specialist hopes to be able to open fifteen outlets in France, six of which will be in the Paris region. This imminent arrival is seen as a threat by local major retailers.

Costco’s model is based on a principle of limited product selection: it offers a limited range of items, with less products than in traditional supermarkets. Therefore, it offers a very large range of different types of products, but with restricted choice for each of them. Costco was founded in 1983 in Seattle in the U.S. The shop is now present in nine countries across several continents, including Asia and Europe

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G.B.