Obi boss Sergio Giroldi has tested positive for Covid-19. He revealed this in an interview given yesterday, 21 October 2020, on the platform of the Global DIY-Network. The video interview was conducted by John Herbert, general secretary of the international DIY retail association Edra/Ghin, of which Giroldi is the chairman.
Two topics dominated the discussion: the coronavirus crisis and digitalisation. Giroldi spoke of the significantly increased sales of nearly all DIY retailers as a consequence of the pandemic, which has boosted the homing and cocooning trend. He also turned his attention to the procurement perspective, saying "it is time to consider how we source our products". This related on the one hand to aspects sought by customers, such as sustainability and environmental compatibility, but on the other hand also to regional sourcing. He said that Obi was working on increasing its product sourcing from regional manufacturers.
When asked about the impact of digitalisation, Giroldi first took the opportunity to declare his oft-repeated commitment to the business model of the bricks-and-mortar trade. "I strongly believe in modern stationary DIY retailing," he stressed. E-commerce platforms were a way of supporting high street business. In line with his words, Obi is currently driving its click & collect offering by establishing bigger collection zones in store. There are also plans to introduce so-called kerbside retailing, i.e. organising pick-up locations that are independent of existing stores.
In his answers, Giroldi made it clear that the stationary business model in the DIY store complemented by digital services had major advantages over pure e-commerce players. Digitalisation was not an answer to Amazon's business model, but an internal evolution of the DIY retail business. "I'm never ever considering Amazon in reality as my first line competitor," said Giroldi.
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