Meet the Walmart of ethnic grocers

With a vibrant shopping environment and authentic Korean food, H-Mart has set its sights on becoming the Asian superstore of North America

H-mart inside-Oct13

It’s Saturday afternoon and K-pop blares from the speakers. A group of teens enjoys a seafood pancake while a couple explore the high-tech rice cookers on display. Among the hustle and bustle of mini shop-in-shops, a delectable smell of Korean barbecue wafts through the air, eliciting a throng of eager taste testers.

The whole affair feels like an outdoor Korean market. But we’re actually in a supermarket: H-Mart, in suburban Richmond Hill, Ont. And it’s exactly this type of excitement and one-stop shopping that U.S.-based H-Mart hopes to provide its Canadian shoppers.

READ: Meet the godfather of ethnic grocery in Canada

Indeed, some have called H-Mart the ethnic consumers’ answer to Walmart.

Walking through the doors of the 37,000-square-foot H-Mart in Richmond Hill, customers aren’t greeted with fresh produce à la typical Canadian supermarkets. Instead, they’re presented with a few choices: head to the Eastern medicine counter, visit the three food eateries or check out the housewares, part of H-Mart’s Home and Home business.

Reaching the produce section requires a trek to the store’s other end, a journey that takes customers through the centre aisle of frozen open case and upright freezers, the cosmetics shop, a Korean water-filtration system counter, a rice aisle and other grocery-goods sections.

The store layout is reminiscent of what Korean hypermarket chains E-mart and Lotte Mart do back home: combine several mini shop-in-shops under one roof.

H-Mart, or Hanahreum Group (a Korean phrase meaning “arm full of groceries”), headquartered in Lyndhurst, N.J., is well established in the U.S. It has 45 outlets and had an estimated US$1.1 billion in sales in 2012, according to global retail research firm RetailNet Group.

H-Mart wants to replicate that success north of the border and become a “global brand,” says Jongha Chun, H-Mart’s assistant marketing manager for Eastern Canada.

H-Mart is off to a good start in Canada but has faced obstacles ever since it opened its first Canadian outlet, in 2003, in Coquitlam, B.C. Real estate has been hard to come by, especially for its Super H-Mart superstore format (80,000 sq. ft. and up).

That, combined with Canada’s highly competitive ethnic grocery sector, has resulted in a slow but steady rollout of stores compared to its faster U.S. experience.

To date, H-Mart has eight stores in Canada: four in B.C., and four in the Toronto area, including its first urban convenience format outside of Manhattan. Called M2M, the store opened this spring.

Chun says H-Mart wants to be a grocery store for the masses, not just for Koreans living in North America. Among H-Mart’s customers at the Richmond Hill store, 50% are Korean; 30% Chinese; and 20% “others.”

READ: H-Mart opens urban convenience format in Toronto

But the chain hopes to diversify its customer base. In American H-Marts, for instance, “others” account for half the traffic.

Also at H-Mart U.S. stores, half the staff and management are non-Korean, says Chun. Multicultural consumers are attracted to the American stores because, in addition to carrying both western and Asian food, H-Mart stocks some Hispanic goods, says Jisi Guo, a research analyst with RetailNet Group.

Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s School of Business, says T&T Supermarket’s success was bound to lead others into the ethnic arena. “It will be interesting to see whether that arena is siloed [e.g., Chinese, Korean, Japanese] or whether it’s really about being an ‘Asian’ grocery store that sells kimchi, sushi materials and the like,” says Wong.

Although H-Mart has yet to achieve the kind of mainstream popularity in Canada that it enjoys south of the border, it is distinguishing itself with the delivery of authentic Korean food for non-Koreans.

Unlike many of its ethnic rivals, H-Mart does not aim for the lowest prices on its offering. That’s especially true on seafood. “We can’t compete with Chinese markets on price. Instead we want to offer quality,” says Chun.

READ: Tap into convenience with ethnic HMR offerings

On a recent morning that strategy seemed to be working. One Chinese customer said she comes every week to H-Mart to get her fiddle- heads, sliced ginger and Korean sushi. Even though she admitted the prices are better elsewhere, she said she comes to H-Mart for its Korean products.

“They taste different than the products at the Chinese grocers, and they’re more fresh,” she says.

A key component to authentic Korean cuisine is the national dish: kimchi, or spicy pickled cabbage. Chinese grocers are already making their own in-store versions of kimchi, says Chun, which he calls too sweet and not spicy enough.

To capitalize on the popularity of the dish, H-Mart is setting up a kimchi factory in Toronto, as part of its wholesale arm, Seoul Trading. Next year, H-Mart will roll out kimchi under its private-label brand, Choripdong, to supply the dish to other grocers and foodservice outlets.

At the Richmond Hill location alone, there are no fewer than 20 different types of kimchi available in dedicated refrigerated cases–everything from white cabbage kimchi to young radish kimchi.

Along with kimchi, Korean meals typically have anywhere from two to 12 side dishes, so H-Mart makes sure it has enough choice available.

Another competitive plus for H-Mart is the company’s extensive supply chain network, centred in California and South Korea’s southern port city of Busan.

READ: The rise of protein…and it’s just getting started

Chun says more than 60 containers from California, and two from Korea are shipped weekly to its Toronto and Vancouver distribution facilities by air or sea. They consist of fresh and frozen consumer packaged goods, including H-Mart’s private-label products under brands including Choripdong and Fremo.

A competitor who didn’t want to be identified says that H-Mart’s ability to source items from Korean manufacturers is an advantage. In the long term, the chain’s buying power can only expand by being able to source not only from Korea, but in North America, too.

For instance, through its California DCs, Chun says H-Mart is able to procure better quality Korean specialty produce, such as hami melons, Lago grapes and Napa cabbage (used to make kimchi), faster than its competitors.

“Whether you’re an ethnic grocer or conventional, western grocer, you can’t beat freshness, speed and selection,” says Chun


MB2-700 braindumps MB3-700 braindumps MB6-869 braindumps OG0-093 braindumps VCP-510 braindumps VCP550 braindumps 070-178 braindumps 070-331 braindumps 070-467 braindumps 070-667 braindumps 070-684 braindumps 070-687 braindumps 1Z0-051 braindumps 1Z0-060 exam dumps 1Z0-478 exam dumps 1Z0-485 exam dumps 1Z0-897 exam dumps 200-120 exam dumps 220-801 exam dumps 500-201 exam dumps 70-346 exam dumps 70-412 exam dumps 70-458 exam dumps 70-486 exam dumps 820-421 exam dumps 820-422 exam dumps C2170-008 exam dumps C2180-275 exam dumps C2180-276 exam dumps C4040-123 exam dumps JN0-343 exam dumps M70-201 exam dumps M70-301 exam dumps NS0-504 exam dumps 70-410 exam dumps PW0-204 exam dumps 3001 exam dumps 050-720 exam dumps 070-480 exam dumps 070-487 exam dumps 1Z0-062 exam dumps 1Z0-597 exam dumps 1Z0-899 exam dumps 250-310 exam dumps 350-018 exam dumps 400-051 exam dumps 70-178 exam dumps 70-331 exam dumps 70-413 exam dumps 70-465 exam dumps 70-467 exam dumps 70-484 exam dumps 70-485 exam dumps 74-338 exam dumps 74-344 test 810-420 test 70-410 test 050-SEPROAUTH-02 test 200-120 test MB2-703 test 070-462 test 70-462 test 70-461 test 070-410 test JN0-102 test 70-411 test C_TADM51_731 test C4090-958 test 70-483 test EX300 test 070-461 test MB2-702 test MB7-702 test 220-802 test 400-101 test 646-206 test 700-501 test 70-480 test C4040-108 test MB2-701 test 070-411 test 100-101 test 640-554 test 700-505 test 70-457 test 70-460 test C2150-197 test EX0-001 test 070-243 test 70-466 test C_THR12_66 test C4040-225 test 1Z0-061 test 70-347 test C4090-452 test VCP-550 test 070-177 test 070-412 test 70-417 test 70-463 test 70-488 test C_HANATEC131 test C2090-303 test C2090-614 test 70-331 test MB5-705 test 070-247 test 070-347 test 070-463 test 300-206 test 70-243 test 74-325 test C2020-622 test C2030-283 test C2090-540 test C2180-278 test HP0-J73 test ICBB test 070-246 test 070-341 test 070-417 test 070-457 test 070-458 test 1Z0-481 test 1Z0-599 test 300-207 test 70-246 test 70-414 test A00-240 exams C_TAW12_731 exams C4030-670 exams C4040-224 exams C4090-450 exams C4120-783 exams EX200 exams MB2-700 exams MB3-700 exams MB6-869 exams 70-346 exams 70-412 exams 70-458 exams 200-120 exams MB2-703 exams 070-462 exams 70-462 exams 70-461 exams 070-410 exams 70-410 exams 050-SEPROAUTH-02 exams 200-120 exams MB2-703 exams 070-462 exams 70-462 exams 70-461 exams 070-410 exams JN0-102 exams 70-411 exams C_TADM51_731 exams C4090-958 exams 70-483 exams EX300 exams 100-101 braindumps 70-410 braindumps 050-SEPROAUTH-02 braindumps 200-120 braindumps MB2-703 braindumps 070-462 braindumps 70-462 braindumps 70-461 braindumps 070-410 braindumps JN0-102 exam dumps 200-120 exam dumps MB2-703 exam dumps 070-462 exam dumps 70-462 exam dumps 70-461 exam dumps 070-410 exam dumps JN0-102 exam dumps 70-411 exam dumps 70-480 PDF exams C4090-958 PDF exams 70-483 PDF exams EX300 PDF exams 070-461 PDF exams MB2-702 PDF exams 1Z0-061 220-801 70-465 C4090-958 MB6-700 OG0-093 646-206 EX0-001 70-413 M70-201 117-101 810-420 C2180-276 70-410 exams 1Z0-062 exams 70-466 exams 200-101 exams 70-489 exams MB2-701 exams 640-864 exams 070-177 braindumps 070-412 braindumps 70-417 braindumps 70-463 braindumps 70-488 braindumps C_HANATEC131 braindumps C2090-303 braindumps C2090-614 braindumps 70-331 braindumps 400-101 braindumps