NIS 5-coffee Kingpin Turns His Sights on Grocers

Cofix’s Avi Katz plans to launch grocery chain featuring only products of the same price.

Daniel Bar-On

The five-shekel revolution, sparked by retail entrepreneur Avi Katz with his low-cost chains of cafes, is spreading to supermarkets.

Katz said on Monday he plans to launch a chain of city center groceries that will offer all its products for just 5 shekels ($1.32) each. The first of the 20 Super Cofix outlets he is planning will open in April, said Katz, whose Cofix café chain introduced Israelis to five-shekel cups of coffee just over a year ago.

The new venture comes as the issue of high Israeli food prices has resurfaced, this time prompted by a Facebook posting last month showing chocolate pudding in Berlin cost a third of the equivalent product in Israel.

“”At a time when everyone is talking, we’re doing something,” said Katz. “Cofix proved it was possible to change things in the coffee market and it will do it again with supermarkets.”

Each Super Cofix will carry a limited range of about 600 products on its shelves over floor space of between 150 and 400 square meters. Katz promised that despite the limited selection, the markets will sell all the basic necessities a typical household needs, and the groceries will feature a Cofix café.

“The idea is to take 600 leading products for household use and ensure they are all five shekels, either by lowering prices for existing products, importing them directly, producing private label goods and packaging them in quantities appropriate to the price,” said Haim Aharon, who now manages the Cofix chain for Katz and will take over running the new supermarket chain.

Although his image is one of retail revolutionary, Katz is in fact an experienced retailer, whose earlier forays include Hakol Ba’dollar (where every item is sold for the shekel equivalent of $1) and the toy store chain Kfar Hashashu’im. Cofix café, which was launched in September last year, now counts 50 branches and will, it says, have sales of 100 million shekels.

Nevertheless, for the supermarket venture he has taken on Gil Unger, who served as an executive at Blue Square mega, as a partner.

In Cofix’s announcement, the press release included a word of support from Economy Minster Naftali Bennett. “Cofix’s new chain is great news for the Israeli consumer and will help by removing any bureaucratic obstacles,” he said. “It will be a success for all of us.”