Moroccan government threatens to show Turkish discounter the door

With the Moroccan and Turkish governments missing a self-imposed deadline of January 30th to reach a new trade deal, Moroccan Minister of Trade Moulay Hafid Elalamy has threatened to shut down Turkish grocery retailer BİM’s local operations. Speaking in the Moroccan parliament, he claimed “Wherever they [BİM] open, 60 Moroccan shops are closed.”

Haluk Dortluoğlu, BİM’s chief financial officer, countered that “We only source around 15% of products sold in Morocco from Turkey. The remainder are bought from local producers.” “We have increased purchases from local producers in Morocco over time and will continue to do so,” he added.

Morocco is currently renegotiating a free trade deal itsigned with Turkey in 2004 in the light of its burgeoning trade deficit with that country. Turkish exports to Morocco reached USD2.3 billion in 2019, while its imports from that country were worth a mere USD690 million.

BİM, which operates a hard discount model where private label is predominant (currently accounting for more than two-thirds of value sales), is sometimes referred to as the “Turkish Aldi.” With operations in Egypt and Morocco, as well as domestically, it had almost 7,500 stores and revenue of USD6.7 billion in 2018. Having opened its first Moroccan store in 2008, its local operation achieved operational profitability for the first time in 2018 and is now approaching 500 outlets.

The Sagaci Retail View: While the Moroccan government’s threat to BİM is almost certainly posturing, it does serve to highlight the success of the hard discount model in North Africa and the growing threat it poses to more established retail channels, such as supermarkets and grocery stores.

If you are interested in a much more detailed analysis of BİM’s history, operations, growth, and strategy in Africa, check out our BİM Retailer Research Report