Ivorian retailer seeks to remake the traditional market

Supermarkets continue their inexorable growth across much of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), but some local entrepreneurs are attempting to hybridise this format with traditional markets to produce something that is uniquely African.

The Prince Ebeano supermarket chain in Nigeria is one example of this, but Socofrais is taking the concept a step further in Abidjan, the largest city in Côte d’Ivoire. With two outlets (in Cocody and Marcory), Socofrais aims to combine the ambiance and the large range of fresh products of a traditional market (everything from bananas and pineapples to dried fish and frogs) with the quality control and air-conditioned comfort of a supermarket.

To this end, it markets a range of products, ranging from peppers and mushrooms to ground baobab, hibiscus leaves, and placali (fermented cassava paste), that are sourced from farms around Gonaté in the west-central region of Côte d’Ivoire under the brand name Nora.

According to local blogger Serial Foodie, “Socofrais is a real pearl for the inhabitants of the city of Abidjan because it offers rare products that cannot be found in any shopping centre. The concept is excellent and should be replicated elsewhere.”

The Sagaci Research View: The international players currently ramping up their presence in Côte d’Ivoire (CFAO, Leader Price, Retail Holding, Citydia) and market leader Prosuma should also take note of this innovative format. Grocery retailers in Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere in SSA should not be wholly dependent on imitating established international models but also seek to adapt to market conditions in order to better meet the needs of local consumers.

To read more (in French), click here

To see a video of a Socofrais store, click here