More Delhaize supermarkets in Brussels to open on Sundays

More Delhaize supermarkets in Brussels to open on Sundays
Supermarket till at a Delhaize in Brussels. Credit: Belga/ Bruno Fahy

A rising number of Delhaize stores in Brussels are now also open on Sundays, largely as a bid to win back more customers following the franchising controversy.

The Delhaize supermarket chain came under fire in March last year when it was announced it would be franchising 128 of its self-managed stores across Belgium.

The company denied this would lead to job losses, but its approach was heavily criticised, as was its treatment of unions. The wave of strikes that followed forced many shops to remain closed for a long time, resulting in operating profits slinking.

However, the franchised outlets have more freedom to open when they please, meaning that in Brussels, some Delhaize branches will now also open on Sundays.

Silver linings

While many of the Shop & Go stores do remain open on Sundays, in some cases until as late as 22:00, most of the capital's major Delhaize stores are closed during the last day of the week.

Delhaize Hankar opened on Sunday for the first time on 7 January. Mathieu Van Heuverswyn, the new manager of the Auderghem branch, told Bruzz this is an advantage of franchising.

"The framework in which we work is less strict," he said. "There is more room for individual initiatives. A new opening day, for example, but also promo campaigns or sponsorship," he said.

However, he did stress that there were many challenges at the start, as the media attention of the franchising resulted in the customer base in this branch declining a bit, as sometimes the shop was unexpectedly closed due to strike actions.

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There was also a lot of anxiety among staff about the new conditions, and they were apprehensive about the takeover. But Van Heuverswyn argued that the situation has since calmed down and customers are returning. The extra opening day in a region where many large stores are closed on a Sunday will likely help.

The Delhaize franchise De Fré (in Uccle), Saint-Antoine (Etterbeek) and Fort Jaco (Uccle) are now also open on Sundays.

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