As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 20th of May, 2020, Zagreb’s popular Zabac Food Outlet is expanding its business despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On its Facebook profile, Zabac announced that it was set to open its fourth low price food store, the first in Novi Zagreb. It will be located in space in Travno, on the ground floor of the so-called Mamutice, otherwise the largest residential buildings in Zagreb and in Croatia.
“The store is set to open on July the 1st, 2020, is located at 9 Božidar Magovac street, it will cover about 400 square metres and will have fifteen employees,” the owner of Zabac Food Outlet, Mario Zamboki, told Poslovni Dnevnik.
This move across the Sava river was long-awaited, with the opening of each previous Zabac Food Outlet, the number of inquiries from customers about when they will open up at new locations grew, so the announcement of Novi Zagreb’s new Zabac store gained a lot of positive comments and “likes”.
It is a message that clearly says that the concept of selling food at prices reduced by up to 50-90 percent when compared to the same kind of goods sold in “normal” stores is a complete hit. The question now is; will the first Zabac Food Outlet south of the Sava river be the only new one to open its doors, or are some in other Croatian cities planned?
“It’s possible that there will be more, and we’re considering opening stores in other larger cities,” Zamboki revealed.
He and his wife Maja opened the first Zabac Food Outlet, which covered about 30 square metres, back in August 2016 at the beginning of Tkalciceva not far from Ban Jelacic Square in the very centre of Zagreb. The next was in the spring of 2017 on Tresnjevka, on the corner of Tratinska and Nova cesta, very close to the market, and it was the largest so far, covering about 300 square metres. This was followed by another in the Importanne Centre back in November 2018, and the one in Nemciceva near Nama on Kvaternikov trg (square), which covers 170 square metres, opened back in September last year, when the first, smallest Zabac store the centre of the city was closed.
The Zambokis based their concept on the intention of selling groceries in three categories – foods that are nearing their expiry date, items that are slightly damaged, and surplus items, providing customers with goods at better prices, and at the same time preventing food waste, because surpluses from factories and shops often end up simply being thrown away, which represents a global problem.
In addition to food (sweets, meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, drinks, fresh fruits and vegetables…), the range also includes cleaning and personal hygiene products, and even some clothes, most of which are sold at almost ridiculously low prices. As an idea and business model, Zsbac Food Outlet has been recognised globally, back in the summer of 2018 it received the Euromonitor award for new retail concepts, placing itself among competition from 80 countries, next to the huge Chinese online store, Alibaba.
However, the mini-retail chain has not remained ”immune” to the consequences of restricting the operation of stores in recent months, which was introduced quickly as a measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Zamboki admitted that they too, like many others, had supply problems, and that during that period, customers mostly bought things with long shelf lives. Zabac Food Outlet also witnessed the queues in front of its shops.
“They were mainly supplied with good with long shelf lives, such as pasta, canned foods, and dried meat products,” explained the owner of Zabac.
As all shops were only allowed to operate until 17:00 in the aforementioned period of about a month and a half, Zamboki also opened on Sundays, but it turned out that such a practice would only last until then. It is now still open Monday to Saturday.
”Our position is for stores to be closed on Sundays, because it isn’t the same thing to have a day off on Sunday or a day off during the rest of the week. We hope that the shops will be closed permanently on Sundays “, Zamboki stated, clearly not trying to disguise his views, revealing that everything had been going perfectly well until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia in mid-March.
”Then, our turnover dropped by 70 percent and now it is slowly returning, but it’s unlikely to return to how it was before for this year,” he added.
Due to the drastic decline in business, his company was forced to ask the CES for state support for the preservation of jobs, as Zabac Food Outlet has a total of 45 employees, including people with special needs.
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