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3 questions to Gary Swindells, C.E.O. of Costco-France
Sophie Baqué: During the financial period ended in September 2019, Costco’s sales increased by 7.9% to US$149.3 billion, via 783 warehouses in 12 countries. Can you tell us more about Costco’s expansion policy in Europe?
Gary Swindells: We are moving forward step by step, it is at the heart of our DNA and our values. Costco is not expanding exponentially; it is quite the opposite, we want to stabilise ourselves, to ensure solid foundations before moving on to the next step. This has been the case in all our international markets, in Japan, in Canada, in France, etc. There, Costco opened in 2017 and currently has a warehouse store in Villebon-sur-Yvette (90,000 persons with a €36/year membership card, 85% of whom are private individuals and 15% professionals). Of course, there are other opportunities in Europe, and we hope to announce some opening projects in the next month in France and in Spain.
Sophie Baqué: Are you going to sell online?
Gary Swindells: In December, only France and Spain will not have e-commerce activity. There are many opportunities in online sales, especially drive, but we want first to solidify our core business before going on the Internet. In other countries (USA, Canada, etc.), Costco’s e-commerce business is really complementary to that of stores: only 3% of the range sold online is the same as in the stores. The offer’s depth is also different: at Costco we can find an average 3,800 references in store against 8,000 online.
Sophie Baqué: How data teams are organised at Costco?
Gary Swindells: In Seattle, where the first Costco warehouse store opened in 1983 and where our global headquarters are still located, there is a large team dedicated to data. Currently, these skills are rather centralised in the US, but there are some support departments in the countries. Of course, it is intended to evolve. We definitely have a local data team when we launch a new drive service.