Jonas Roosens

Albert Heijn brings ‘1+5 Free’ to Belgium

Supermarket chain Albert Heijn has launched a new promotional drive that is attracting considerable attention.  Under ‘1+5 Free’ you buy a pack of toilet rolls and get 5 toilet rim blocks free or if you purchase a crate of beer there are five free packs of nuts, etc.  29 different combinations of products are in play. But why is Albert Heijn doing this and is it legal?

The promotion is receiving a lot of media attention and that is already one battle won for Albert Heijn.  Retail expert Pierre-Alexandre Billiet says this is one giant stunt for the store.  The media attention and free advertising is worth a lot more than the value of the products they are giving away. He also suggests the company is seeking out the margins of what is and what is not permissible.  Under Belgian law selling at a loss is not allowed!

Albert Heijn is a relatively small player in Belgium notes Billiet.  “The chain is attempting to gain market share and would never contemplate an action like this in its home base in the Netherlands”.

The federal economy ministry will scrutinise the action.  “The economic inspection does this with every campaign” says Billiet “as it’s not permitted to sell at a loss.”

Earlier the store was fined when it launched a 1+2 Free action.  Billiet explains that in mathematical terms the present action may signify operating at a loss for Albert Heijn but adds that supermarkets possess a box of tricks that allow them to “optimise” selling at a loss to avoid sanction by the economic inspection.

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