Thursday, 1 March 2012


I first remember visiting a Biedronka (Ladybird) supermarket in Kielce at about the turn of the century. It was a cheap, but desperately un-cheerful shop, catering for the poor. Under their Portuguese owners, they have changed dramatically and are in the process of trying to establish a reputation for quality. Their advertising promotion of their quality, like that of their rivals Lidl, gives me the impression of miss-truth and manipulation of facts. More valuable to me, is the new design of their shops, which takes away the 'pile em high and sell them cheap' entrance look of the shop, replacing it with a more open and welcoming display.

The positive effect of their quality campaign can best be given by this schoolboy's design of a film for his English lesson:

Name: Biedronka the Shop.
Type: science fiction
Setting: Biedronka
Plot: Radek goes to the Biedronka to buy some sugar. Suddenly, Lidl shoppers attack this shop. Radek takes two cucumbers and defends the shop. Lidl shoppers run from Biedronka after a fierce battle.
Starring: Radek, Lidl shoppers.
Soundtrack: a Biedronka advertising jingle, 'Daj się zaskoszyć, jakością Biedronki' - 'Be surprised by Biedronka quality'.
Special effects: laser cucumbers, big boom grapes.
In my film, I would show high quality of Biedronka products.

Biedronka does have some good things now (and some bad). I mentioned mature cheese some time ago, which is still there, but my current best buy is cornichons with chilli.

My ultimate problem with Biedronka is that they don't accept payment by card. Since the bankomats I know are near shops, it is rather absurd to stop at a shop to get money in order to go out of my way to do shopping in Biedronka. In practice and in several different places, I generally drove straight past Biedronka and went to Lidl.

This Biedronka is roughly half way between Magdelenka and the Lidl in Piasezcno. I normally drove straight past it, but I had a reasonable amount of cash once and bought a few immediate requirements eg rolls for Babcia. I was actually more interested in trying out the coffee in Bar Pychotka: the ordinariness of the instant coffee (Nescafe), being more than made up for by the very pleasant service, although tight shorts in December did seem a bit extreme. I felt cold watching her behind the counter.

I was therefore pleased when, just after the new year, a new Biedronka with cashpoint opened in/just outside Magdelenka. This was just a few minutes detour out of my way, so I could both easily get cash when I need it, and do some shopping in Biedronka. It became my nearest supermarket.

However, from my eight visits, the experience has instead been:

Bankomat not working and leaving without doing any shopping: 5 times.
Bankomat working, got money and did shopping: once.
Already had money and did shopping: once.
Had money, did shopping, but money insufficient. I was told the bankomat was working, went to get money, but it wasn't. Paid for reduced shopping (the cashier called the supervisor to delete items from the bill; other customers forced to wait) and left with less than I wanted: once

An unsuccessful visit when the bankomat was undergoing 'technical maintenance': ie it had broken down.

The bankomat belongs to one of the local banks and I normally go around 9:00 in the morning - the cash may well have run out overnight and not been replenished, so I do not blame Biedronka. However, what should have been a good marketing attraction has instead emphasised how useless Biedronka is as a place for me to shop. My hope to improve my familiarity with and respect for the chain has been completely eliminated.

I assume cards aren't accepted as there is a charge for them, increasing company costs. I would feel some compensation for this if their prices were lower than the other supermarkets I visit, but they are roughly the same. I assume they are using the money for their very impressive expansion programme, with price competition aimed at the more expensive, local small shops.

As for Radek's film idea, I suggest he rips a bouncing bankomat from the wall, to add to his laser cucumber and big boom grape arsenal. I'd be one of the people cheering if I saw that.

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