Some media have recently metioned the existence of a Turkish supermarket chain, FILE, which greatly resembles the Spanish giant MERCADONA, and not only in its logo and corporate colours, which, at a glance, undoubtedly remind us of the Valencian company.
The responsible for this business adventure is BİM Birleşik Mağazalar A.Ş, a company based in Istanbul, actively operating since 1995; it is a pioneer in the implementation of a discount model in the Turkish market and has more than 7400 establishments not only within its borders, but also in Morocco and Egypt. In 2015, it began the activity of its subsidiary company FILE, which has reached almost one hundred supermarkets in 12 Turkish cities.
The head of operations of the parent company, Galip Aykaç, revealed in the media in his country that the origin of the project was in fact the discovery of the business model implemented by MERCADONA in Spain, while they were conducting a research in the American market; after a year and a half of meticulous study of this model, the result was FILE.
Just by visiting at their website, the resemblance is obvious: the entrance to their stores is presided over by a large design, which on the left shows a shopping basket in mustard yellow color, with fruits and vegetables, framed in a green circle, and on the right, the name in rounded letters with the same corporate green colour of the Spanish firm:
Currently, FILE is in a process of expansion, and it shows a lot of similarities with MERCADONA. The supermarkets, decorated in a particularly warm way, are designed to make consumers feel comfortable; the shelves, the workers' uniforms and even the music evoke those of MERCADONA; there are not special promotions or discount days, but rather a low price policy for its products made to high standards, and it also has its own “white brands”, as well as products from national and international manufacturers. In particular, its white labels for foodstuffs, cleaning supplies and personal care products are very similar to the Spanish ones, having an important visual impact that makes the risks of confusion and association foreseeable, misleading the consumers if these brands could coexist in the market.
The inspiration is more than evident just in a first sight at the logos of their "white" brands, whether for the typography, the colours or the design´s elements, thus, the question of whether there is plagiarism or in bad faith use of the model created by MERCADONA is unavoidable; however, for the moment the two companies do not share distribution channels or sales premises in the market, given that the growth of the Spanish enterprise has only reached Portugal, setting the target also on near countries, such as France and Italy, while FILE maintains its activity exclusively within Turkey.
Previously, in 2014, the company BİM Birleşik Mağazalar A.Ş ensured the protection of the white brands used in FILE supermarkets, by registering them as national trademarks in their country of origin before the implementation of the affiliate company. Its more than previsible territorial expansion abroad would raise a important matter concerning the adversities it might encounter in the event of a collision with MERCADONA, because this company has also anticipated the way to obtain protection for its trademarks with registration in Arab countries that may be of interest for FILE growth plans, taking into account that the parent company, BIM, is already consolidated in Morocco or Egypt.
Juan Roig's company has not only reinforced the protection of its name and desings in Turkey, obtaining there the registration of several trademarks with different logos of the name MERCADONA since 2007, but also in Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco, where MERCADONA main name and trademark along with some of their most important white brands are already protected. Moreover, the grant of many of them as EU Trademarks registrations, such as DELIPLUS, BOSQUE VERDE, HACENDADO, COMPY or STEINBURG, may dissuade FILE from attempting an incursion into the Community market, because the low options to obtain registration of its white marks due to the previous registrations.
Therefore, regardless of how well MERCADONA could reacts before this copy developed by the Ottoman supermarkets chain – bearing in mind that it is operating for the time being within its national borders -, it seems that the Valencian firm is already preparing to face up the Turkish "clone" in the case that an expansion in the Middle East, North Africa or Europe is among its future strategies.