French media retailer expands in Swiss market

Fnac is eager to grab a share of the German-language market Keystone

A major French multimedia retailer has opened a new store in Fribourg, marking its first foray into Switzerland’s German-language market.

This content was published on October 23, 2003 - 14:58

Fnac plans to use the shop as a springboard for entry into the country's main German-speaking cities of Basel, Bern and Zurich.

The retailer of books, DVDs and CDs believes its success in the French-speaking regions of Switzerland shows that there are further opportunities for the company.

“We have proven in the markets there that our strategy works,” said Michel Jamry, who manages the Fribourg shop.

The outlet in bilingual Fribourg will offer French and German multimedia products, including 5,000 German-language books.

The company forecasts that about 30 per cent of trade in its new 1,600-metre-square shop will be from German speakers.

And Fnac thinks its chances of success are good given its size and aggressive pricing strategy.

“We can fill a need in Fribourg’s multimedia market. As an example, we have the largest collection of CDs on offer in the city,” Jamry told swissinfo.

Price challenge

Fnac’s competitors may face stiff competition, given its promise to match the lowest price available elsewhere.

But if Fnac’s experience in the German capital Berlin is anything to go by success in Switzerland’s German-speaking market is by no means guaranteed.

The Berlin venture was a “disaster”, according to company president Denis Olivennes, and the store finally closed its doors in 1994.

Two years ago, Fnac entered the Swiss market by opening two stores in Geneva, followed by one in Lausanne last year.

The three units in the French-speaking regions of Switzerland have combined sales of SFr120 million ($91 million).

Fnac – which operates in eight countries and employs some 17,000 people – says it plans to open its doors in Zurich in 2005 with Basel and Bern following in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Jamry said the company, a subsidiary of the French Pinault-Printemps-Redoute Group, also has plans to enter the Italian-speaking market in Lugano.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Fnac had sales of SFr120 million ($91 million) in Switzerland in 2002.
The company employs 17,000 people.
It operates in eight countries.

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