Rahimafrooz Superstores Ltd. (RSL) made a breakthrough in the urban lifestyles by launching the first retail chain in the country, ‘Agora’. The name of Agora is entwined with the glory of the Agora’s marketing policy ‘To create better environment for customer. ‘ In 2000 Agora was introduced to the world. Currently there are four Agora outlets at Gulshan, Dhanmondi, Moghbazar and Mirpur in Dhaka. With many more coming up at important locations in Dhaka and other major cities, Agora is endeavoring to fulfill the everyday shopping needs of the urbanites through fair price, right assortment, and best quality.
Agora is a supermarket that is a departmentalized store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise. It is larger in size and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store. Agora comprises meat, produce, dairy and baked goods departments along with shelf space reserved for canned and packaged goods as well as for various nonfood items such as household cleaners, pharmacy products, and pet supplies. Most supermarkets also sell a variety of other household products that are consumed regularly household cleaning products, medicine, clothes, and some sell a much wider range of non-food products.
Agora occupies a large floor space on a single level and is situated near residential areas in the Dhaka in order to be convenient to consumers. Its basic appeal is the availability of a broad selection of goods under a single roof at relatively low prices. Other advantages include ease of parking and, frequently, the convenience of shopping hours that extend far into the evening. Agora usually makes massive outlays for newspaper and other advertising and often present elaborate in-store displays of products.
It is now a part of a chain that owns or controls other supermarkets located in Dhaka; this increases the opportunities for economies of scale. Agora usually offers products at low prices by reducing margins. Certain products (typically staples such as bread, milk and sugar) are often sold as loss leaders, that is, with negative margins. To maintain a profit, Agora attempt to make up for the low margins with a high overall volume of sales, and with sales of higher-margin items.
Customers usually shop by putting their products into shopping carts (trolleys) or baskets (self-service) and pay for the products at the check-out. At present, Agora has intention to reduce labor costs further by shifting to self-service check-out machines, where a group of four or five machines is supervised by a single assistant. Agora’s growth over the last 6 years has involved a transformation of its strategy and image. Its initial success was based on the “Pile it high, sell it cheap” approach of the founder management of Rahim Afrooz.
The disadvantage of this was that the stores had a poor image with middle-class customers. In the year 2001 Agora’s brand image was so negative that consultants advised the company to change the name of its stores. It did not accept this advice, yet by early 2003 it was the largest retailer in Dhaka, with a 29. 0% share of the grocery market according to retail analysts TNS Superpanel, compared to the 16. 8% share of ASDA and 15. 6% share of third-placed NANDAN, which had been the leading competitoe until it was beaten by Agora in 2004.
Key reasons for this success include: An “inclusive offer”. This phrase is used by Agora to describe its aspiration to appeal to upper, medium and low income customers in the same stores. According to Citigroup retail analyst David McCarthy, “They’ve pulled off a trick that I’m not aware of any other retailer achieving. That is to appeal to all segments of the market”. By contrast ASDA’s marketing strategy is focused heavily on value for money, which can undermine its appeal to upmarket customers even though it actually sells a wide range of upmarket products.
During its long term dominance of the supermarket sector Nandan’s retained an image as a high-priced middle class supermarket which considered it to have such a wide lead on quality that it did not need to compete on price, and was indifferent to attracting lower-income customers into its stores. This strategy has been abandoned since losing the number 1 spot to Agora and particularly since the adaption of new management in 2004 that has established a new customer-focused strategy closer to that of Agora.