business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Dean Balsamo:

For the second week in a row you had something about Lidl’s apparent challenge in getting some traction in the US market.

I’m not surprised. I first reached out to the Schwartz Group in Germany on behalf of the magazine distributor I was working with, right after the concept was announced-some three years go. I heard from the first American CEO and then got a polite email from the second CEO here-once they opened their offices in VA a few years back after I’d sent them some material.

They said something about getting back to me. But I heard nothing. Then when I found out about the vendor’s portal-an online menu of categories and products which vendors could register their products on and presumably be contacted by a buyer I looked at it ready to submit our information.  But believe or not they had no “magazine” category listed. I reached out them via an email to a general address and asking about this-thinking it was an oversight. But I never heard a thing back from them.

As I looked at various postings on different LinkedIn sites both the company and individual employees had…I began to decipher a pattern. They appeared to be looking not for seasoned grocery people but young people whom in my opinion they could indoctrinate into what appears to be as well organized and disciplined group think on the part of those people they  hire and we’re looking to add to their culture. I think  “social engineering,” much like I saw with Tesco concept- might come closer to the sentiments I see.

I was certainly getting that Tesco Fresh & Easy vibe:  Extreme top down approach, a rigid formula without any meaningful input from experienced people in this country ie. Americans.

And a general self-congratulatory air seen in some of the comments by their employees on line…bragging when barely a store was open…bragging about what exactly?

But unlike Fresh & Easy where you could go meet with buyers – even if they were more interested in watching soccer - Lidl appeared to me, to be in a locked down mentality. They know it all and because it’s worked overseas in other countries it of course was going to work great here.

I guess time will tell. But Aldi certainly looks like the exception for companies coming here from overseas.  Aldi to its credit, worked for everything they have here. Is it possible these other companies think that sweat equity,  preparing the ground, isn’t important?

Regarding the speculation that Amazon soon will be getting into the prescription drug business, MNB reader Stan Barrett wrote:

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) … be afraid, be very afraid.  In the short-term probably will be some political/regulatory opportunity or just bite the bullet and make Amazon your largest member.

And MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

I can fly to Delhi, India, stay at a 5 star hotel for 3 days, have 6 months of my prescriptions (manufactured by US subsidiaries) delivered to my hotel all for less than what I pay in the US.  I think the industry needs a shakeup.
KC's View: