The founder of easyJet has opened a discount food store that is selling everyday groceries for 25p each.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has launched easyFoodstore in an attempt to take advantage of the fast-growing discount market in the UK, which is led by Aldi and Lidl.
They are already battling dramatic changes in shopping habits as families turn away from the weekly trip to a supermarket in favour of buying food online, in convenience stores and with the discounters. The supermarket chains also face the threat of Amazon expanding into groceries in the UK.
The pilot easyFoodstore has opened in Park Royal in north-west London. It will sell items for 25p each in February as an introductory offer. The retailer’s slogan is “No expensive brands. Just food honestly priced.”
Haji-Ioannou, who has run food initiatives through a charitable organisation in Greece and Cyprus, said: “This is another way the easy brand can serve the less well-off. Given my experience in distributing food for free in Greece and Cyprus, this is a more commercial attempt to sell basic food for 25p per item to those unwaged or low waged living around Park Royal.”
Haji-Ioannou first announced plans to open a discount food store almost three years ago in August 2013. A mock easyFoodstore was built in Croydon a year later, but the tycoon’s plans then appeared to stall, with no shops opening for customers until now.
EasyFoodstore will sell a range of grocery items including pasta, biscuits and beans. However, the list of initial products does not include fresh meat or fruit and vegetables.
When he first announced the idea, Haji-Ioannou said he had been inspired to launch easyFoodstore by the widespread use of food banks.
“I have a feeling that there is a gap in the food retail market – a niche below some of the current budget operators such as Aldi and Lidl,” he said. “I hope that a commercially viable venture offering affordable food will help many people in need as well as producing a viable return for the capital employed.”
Haji-Ioannou and his family still own about 35% of easyJet and are the biggest shareholders. He has already expanded the “easy” brand into a string of other industries, creating easyCar, easyHotel, easyGym and easyProperty.
Since creating the budget airline he has had mixed success. EasyBus and easyHotel have generated profits, but easyCinema was a failure and easyInternetcafe lost more than £100m.