Local Senegalese Auchan “copycat” Senchan opens in Touba

Rijaal Holding has opened its first “Senchan” convenience store in the religious city of Touba. The opening was timed for the Grand Magal of Touba, an annual pilgrimage attracting up to 3 million visitors. Rijaal Holding is looking to open a network of 17 convenience stores in the city.

Senchan is an overt effort to position itself as a local Senegalese chain selling products made in Touba and from Senegal, in apparent contrast to market leader Auchan. Auchan, which entered Senegal in 2015 and took over the Citydia store network in 2017, has 33 stores in Senegal. The company continues to pursue an aggressive store opening policy and its revenues in the country rose by 27% in 2019.

Auchan’s growth trajectory has worried independent retailers, mindful that they cannot compete with the sophistication, leverage and economies of scale Auchan brings to the Senegalese market. These fears have been amplified by the entry of CFAO and its Carrefour and Supeco formats.

Auchan claims to work with around 500 Senegalese suppliers and says that 60% of the products it sells in its stores in Senegal are local. It has also introduced a plan to develop and support local farmers.

Auchan does not yet have a store in Touba, Senegal’s second largest city. The population of the city and its metropolitan area could be as high as 1.5m people. Apart from a single store planned to open later in 2020 in the northern city of St Louis, all of Auchan’s stores are either in Dakar, or within 100km of Dakar (Thiès, Saly). Auchan does dispatch a delegation to the Grand Magal each year. This year, the retailer has supplied food and sanitising products to the city for the pilgrimage.

We understand Auchan plans to expand into the cities of Touba, Kaolack, Ziguinchor and Louga as soon as possible. Realistically, this means that the earliest the retailer is likely to open in Touba is late 2021, and maybe even in 2022 if it cannot secure a site easily.

It remains to be seen if Senchan can live up to its promise and expand rapidly across Touba. We think it may also start to face some competition from local chain SenTeranga, which opened its first stores in 2019 in St Louis and Kaolack, and now has a third store in the Maristes area of Dakar.