Lyons. After crashing prices, how Mammoth stores disappeared 25 years ago

Lyons.  After crashing prices, how Mammoth stores disappeared 25 years ago
The Mammouth supermarket in Caluire, near Lyon before it became an Auchan.
The Mammouth supermarket in Caluire, near Lyon before it became an Auchan. The photo is from 1970. (©Lyon Municipal Library)

It was 25 years ago, at the end of the 90s. The famous Mammoth signwhose slogan promised to “crush the prices” of the races, disappeared definitively from the commercial landscape of the Lyon conurbation.

Younger readers will not know this logo with the letter “M” accompanied by the prehistoric beast. But their parents probably shopped there before the sign was wiped off the supermarket map in France and Lyon.

Quickly popular by “crushing prices”

The first Mammoth hypermarket opened in October 1968 in Montceau-les-Mines in Saône-et-Loire. The sign is the property of the Docks de France group, a group of small manufacturers specializing since 1904 in distribution and both wholesaler.

The brand is quickly popular after its creation in 1968. In 1993, the number of supermarkets of the French brand is close to 100 throughout the country.

The brand clearly positioned itself on low prices and a narrower choice of references than in other brands such as Carrefour, which was also in full development at the time. The Mammoths are on average 5,000 m² compared to twice that for the competition, which means you can rely on less staff, products on the shelves and maintenance costs.

It quickly established itself as the third retail brand in France, behind Carrefour and Leclerc…

Four Mammoths emerge from the ground in Lyon

In the Lyon metropolitan area, three Mammoth superstores are springing up outside the center of Lyon, preferring the new outlying areas then booming. Highways, the car and the great temples of commerce were then king in the 60s and 70s. It is at the same time as Perrache is builtthat the the Part-Dieu district is in full development

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Stores are located at Caluire right next to the fields, before the area urbanized at high speed but also Dardillyat the gates of Lyon, Saint-Genis-Laval and to Saint Priest in this gigantic area, which will become the Gateway to the Alps.

Mammoth acquired by Auchan

In the 80s, the concept and the slogan evolved. After relying on prices, the management at the time launched: “when we know what it costs, we choose Mammoth”, before abandoning the sole reference to low prices in 1988 and adopting “Mammoth , center of life, for the price and for the pleasure”. A more vague concept which must combine “place of life” and “supermarket”.

Ten years later, in the 90s, the group that owns Mammouth expands and launches “Attac”, a low-cost supermarket brand. It is also looking to buy the northern-born supermarket chain, Auchan.

But it is ultimately Auchan which is launching a Hostile takeover on the pachyderm in 1996. The group buys Mammoth and it’s the little red bird with the green tail that will make its mark in dozens of stores.

An advertising poster from the 90s: Mammoth becomes Auchan.
An advertising poster from the 90s: Mammoth becomes Auchan. (©DR)

The first converted store in France is in Lyon

In 1997, Auchan launched a major transformation and modernization plan for the supermarkets it had just bought from Docks de France. The very first in France is in the agglomeration of Lyon.

Mammoth Saint-Genis 2 (7,560 m2) along the A450 becomes the very first store of the chain, in France, to become an Auchan, recalls the specialized media LSA. With this transformation, the new owner aimed to double the turnover of this store in five years.

The Auchan store in Saint-Genis has become the first in France to switch from Mammouth to Auchan.
The Auchan store in Saint-Genis has become the first in France to switch from Mammouth to Auchan. (©Google Street View)

The article mentioned at the time a cost of 5 million francs to transform the supermarket, to which is added the hiring of nine executives and about twenty employees. A construction site which had nevertheless caused the loss of 800,000 francs due to the closing of the shelves…

The other Mammoth stores in the agglomeration then became Auchan, in Caluire, Dardilly and Saint-Priest. At the same time, Carrefour, the long-standing competitor, continued to develop in Lyon: at Part-Dieu, in Vénissieux, Villeurbanne, etc.

Auchan employees should strike this Friday, December 17.
Auchan has definitely replaced Mammoth in the Lyon conurbation and everywhere in France. (© Illustration/ La Presse de la Manche)

In France, only one Mammoth store will survive Auchan. Located in the Oise, it exists until October 3, 2009, date of the final disappearance of the last Mammoth.

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