New supermarket chain targets haredim

New chain will integrate Shufersal's ultra-Orthodox Alef and Zol Po with new branches across the country.

shufersal 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
shufersal 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shufersal Ltd., the supermarket chain controlled by Nochi Dankner's IDB Group, is launching 48 discount branches tailored to the needs of haredi and Arab shoppers at an investment of NIS 70 million. "We are committed to offering low-priced products, economy-size packaging and strict kosher standards, while respecting Shabbat, to draw large families with many children, the haredi and religious sector and the Israeli Arab sector," Shufersal CEO Effi Rosenhaus said Tuesday at a press conference at one of the new outlets in Rishon Lezion. "We will also launch private-label products that meet the needs of our customers." The Yesh supermarket chain will be launched next Tuesday. It will integrate Shufersal's ultra-Orthodox Alef and Zol Po chains with new branches across the country, from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheba. The Yesh chain is expected to open another eight branches by the end of 2009, bringing the total number to 56. "Our target is to gradually increase the number of customers and grow our market share of 23.7 percent within the next two or three years," Rosenhaus said. "Penetration into the haredi sector opens up the potential of 1 million customers. The idea is to have outlets across the country within a driving distance of seven kilometers of customers' homes." The country's largest supermarket chain was also planning to offer financial services, he said. Yesh's strategy was to provide an answer to the unique needs of the haredi and religious sector, and the Arabic sector, while adapting to demographic characteristics, Rosenhaus said. The Yesh chain will offer private-label products with kosher certification, a Yesh credit card and a loyalty club, he said. Haredi rabbis have instituted a herem, or boycott, on the Shefa Shuk supermarket branches in Jerusalem's religious neighborhoods. As a result, haredi communities are looking for alternatives for inexpensive shopping with kosher certification. Shefa Shuk came under fire from haredim earlier this year because the company's owner, Dudi Weissman, also owns the Tel Aviv-based AM:PM food market chain, which is open on Shabbat. Because those locations stay open all week, the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat said religious shoppers indirectly violate Shabbat by shopping there. The boycott has left Shefa Shuk branches relatively empty for months. "I hope that the Shefa Shuk problem will be solved," Rosenhaus said. "But to a certain extent we are benefiting from this situation. "However, if someone believes that we are acting out of the moment or in reaction to short-term changes he is wrong. About two and a half years ago we already established 80 percent of the plans of this project, but because of the purchase of the Clubmarket chain and its integration we couldn't proceed."