Makro To Add 3 Warehouse Club Stores

Posted: August 14, 1986

Dip a thermometer into Philadelphia retail waters, and you'll see it heating up, degree by degree.

Next, Makro, the membership warehouse shopping club now represented locally by one store in Langhorne, is poised to push the mercury higher.

"We have singled out the Philadelphia-South Jersey area as being able to support at least three stores and possibly four, and plan to get them open within the next two years," said Joseph Nusim, chief executive of Makro U.S.A.

Nusim said only Washington, D.C., figures as prominently in the company's expansion plans as the Philadelphia area, which stands out for its population density and income levels and the past performance of the Langhorne store.

King of Prussia, Cherry Hill and Mount Laurel are among the locations the company will consider, Nusim said. Makro stores average 185,000 square feet, the size of many suburban department stores.

Makro's Langhorne store was the first of its kind in the area, but the second likely will belong to another chain. BJ's Wholesale Club, a unit of

Zayre Corp., is to break ground today in Maple Shade, N.J., for the first of ''three or four stores in the Philadelphia area," according to BJ's president, Mervyn Weich. Another membership warehouse leader, Price Club, also has said it is looking for a site in this area.

Makro is a privately held Cincinnati-based subsidiary of a Dutch company called SHV. SHV has annual sales worldwide of $5 billion, mostly from its 50 Makro stores, four of them in the United States. That sales figure ranks SHV with the largest U.S. retailers.

Makro stores differ from most of the burgeoning American warehouse membership clubs in several ways. First, they place a greater emphasis on food, which accounts for about 60 percent of sales. Second, Makro offers more ''frills." The stores are air conditioned, they have tile floors instead of bare concrete, they have more staff, and they accept credit cards.

Makro is able to offer more by doing even higher sales volumes than many of its competitors - more than $75 million to $80 million annually per store, Nusim said.

Membership is free. Small-business owners, doctors, lawyers and accountants are eligible, Nusim said. "If they are a certain type of person, they qualify. We allow teachers and nurses, but most factory workers paid hourly wouldn't qualify. And they wouldn't want to buy the goods we sell."

Nusim said the typical member household has an annual income above $55,000.

Makro stores offer a relatively broad selection, that includes electronics, cameras, jewelry and designer clothes. The accent is on brand-name goods.

An industry expert who asked that his name not be used estimated that Makro's four U.S. stores do a combined sales volume of $300 million. The company plans to add two stores in the coming year, three in the next year, then four to nine stores in the third year.

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