Retailer Spotlight - Fnac Darty
Fnac Darty was formed in 2016 by the merging of two existing French retailers. Both companies were major names in the consumer electronics market in their own right before the merger. Today Fnac Darty has a combined total of over 900 stores in twelve countries and a thriving online business.
From the start, Fnac has been a unique retailer. In 1954, it was founded by a pair of socialists who sought to bring their political principles into the retail landscape. André Essel and Max Théret formed Fnac as a members-only buyers club. The aim was to sell photography equipment at a reduced price for the benefit of consumers.
The company expanded in the following years while retaining its distinct identity. Fnac stores expanded their product range to include books, music and electronics. The consumer-first approach is reflected in their product testing. In 1972, Fnac opened their own laboratory to test the products sold in their stores. If the laboratory deems a product inadequate, Fnac have been known to blacklist it from stores.
In the past thirty years, the company has changed hands several times. Kering, parent company of brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, owned Fnac for a period. But they once again became an independent business in 2013.
Founded in 1957, Darty began as a family business selling textiles. From their initial success, the retailer expanded into new product categories. First they began selling radio and television equipment. Soon they expanded to consumer electronics and domestic appliances.
From the beginning, Darty have placed an emphasis on customer satisfaction. In 1973, the company launched their “contrat de confiance” (“contract of trust”). The contract guaranteed customers the best price, choice and service and it continues today. If a customer finds a product cheaper elsewhere, Darty will provide them with a gift card for the difference in price.
In 2016, Fnac bought Darty. The deal brought together two of France’s largest retailers. Fnac sought the merger in response to fierce competition from online-only retailers with much lower fixed costs. Bringing together two large existing businesses, the aim was to generate economies of scale and reduce costs for both.
The merger was natural in many ways. Both companies have a commitment to putting consumers first. Although there are some differences, they have complementary product ranges too. Fnac and Darty had both already recognised the changing retail landscape. And they knew the importance of the online channel.
In addition to over 600 stores in France, Fnac Darty has significant presence elsewhere in Europe. Darty owns the Belgian consumers electronics retailer Vanden Borre with 72 stores. And Fnac operates in both Portugal (28 stores) and Spain (34 stores).
Fnac Darty also owns Nature et Découvertes. The lifestyle and wellbeing retailer has over 80 stores in France and a handful in Switzerland and Belgium. Expansion outside of Europe has been successful too. Using a franchise model, Fnac now operates in Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tunisia and Qatar.
Central to their online business is the Fnac Darty Marketplace. The e-commerce platform allows the sale of new and used goods across consumer electronics, domestic appliances and homeware. And it’s now the sixth most-visited online marketplace in Europe with over 36 million active customers. For the business, it has been a great success.
Unlock EMEA has experience working with Fnac Darty and can advise you about the suitability of your product for either retailer. We can also help you with securing placement in stores. This is a fantastic opportunity for brands who are expanding into European markets to get their products to consumers.