Retailer Checkers is launching its first standalone baby store, Little Me, in Drakenstein in the Western Cape. The group also plans to open another six Little Me outlets in stores across the country before the end of 2021.
While Checkers already has Little Me outlets in four of its supermarkets, the expansion to a standalone outlet shows a clear push into South Africa’s lucrative baby care product market.
“Little Me is an opportunity to offer our parent-customers fantastic baby brands at supermarket prices,” said Willem Hunlun, chief operating officer at Checkers.
“With a destination baby store, parents can browse the brands and products on offer at leisure, with specialist in-store employees on standby to be of assistance.”
Other retailers have also shown a clear desire to enter the market – either through acquisitions or starting their own brands.
In May 2020, pharmacy and health group Dis-Chem announced that it would purchase baby care retailer Baby City for a price of R430 million.
Baby City is a specialist destination baby retailer that operates a network of 33 stores across South Africa. Baby City stores will see the inclusion of a Dis-Chem branded clinic, which will offer ante and post-natal clinic services aimed at babies and toddlers.
“Dis-Chem recognises that the characteristics of the baby product sector align with those of the pharmacy sector.
“Both sectors are extremely resilient with perpetual new entrants – the baby sector sees approximately 900,000 new babies annually. Dis-Chem’s current offering is very focused on the FMCG and basic essentials categories which are extremely sensitive to price and promotion,” it said at the time of the acquisition.
Clicks also opened its first standalone baby store in KwaZulu-Natal in May and expanded its operations to Gauteng in October.
“What makes our Clicks Baby Store unique is that it offers a convenient, beautifully curated shopping experience, with a bigger showcase of our online and in-store mom and baby ranges than normally found in a traditional Clicks store,” said id Shawn Whiffler, commercial executive for Baby at Clicks.
“Customers will also benefit from expert advice and tips from our in-store advisors on the myriad selection of local and international brands available.”