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All retail news from Europe
  1. Dutch Albert Heijn has started a trial with meal delivery service in Amsterdam. The announcement comes just two days after CEO Wouter Kolk announced his chain's supermarkets would become more about convenience and experience, while 'boring' products would be ordered online.


    First sign of new strategy

    The Dutch chain has selected a number of popular products that consumers can get delivered for free, like soups, sandwiches, salads or fresh fruit juice. The products are collected from two 'AH to go' stores in Amsterdam's city centre and (naturally) delivered by bike.


    The supermarket chain sees a lot of opportunities: "Ordering a lunch or meal is already fairly common, but now we too can make our customers happy", says general manager Jan-Willem Dockheer. "Working together with a retailer in this field is innovative, and innovation is what we are always looking for", says's sales director Silvie Cremers.


    Cooperating with meal delivery services was one of the main items in the new Ahold Delhaize strategy, that CEO Wouter Kolk announced only this week. In his vision, supermarkets will have to sell a lot of normal products online and deliver them at home, in order to focus on experience on the freed surface.

  2. Belgian Foodmaker is dreaming big: the healthy fast food chain unveiled a new store concept with which it wants to test its potential on Europe's major shopping streets. Moreover, CEO Lieven Vanlommel has concluded deals with supermarket chains Delhaize and Monoprix.


    High street strategy

    The opening of a 500 sqm store in Belgium's busiest shopping street, the Meir in Antwerp, allows the chain to test a High Street strategy, from which the chain wants to draw conclusions that should lead to conquering the most important shopping streets in Europe. "It is risky, given the high rents and our low prices, but we believe we can reach the necessary volumes to make it work. That should enable our European growth strategy focusing on the most important shoping streets in Europe", the CEO says.


    Foodmaker wants to double its turnover in 2019, drawing not only on its own stores in shopping streets, but also from shops-in-shop in supermarkets. Belgian Delhaize, which has just announced a new concept 'Fresh Atelier' based on convenience and experience, has agreed to welcoming Foodmakers in 25 supermarkets with that new concept. "This is more than expected, and this collaboration enables us to expand our reach and raise our volumes, which in turn is necessary to make quality products with a positive profit margin." Monoprix will also give the chain room for shops-in-shop in up to twenty French stores, seeing now successful the current pilot stores in a few Belgian supermarkets are.


    The new Foodmaker store in Antwerp is based on experience (even featuring events with cooking lessons) and claims to be a quiet oasis in the hasty world around it. The first floor offers lots of green and an exquisite view on the beautiful shopping street that is the Meir, while the ground floor has a to go corner at the entrance and a main salad bar, wrap bar and sandwich bar. There will also be a dessert bar with sugar-free and vegan options. "Existing restaurants on this street offer mostly hamburgers and the like, so we hope to bring something unexpected", Vanlommel says.

  3. In Paris, Carrefour is testing a new store concept that combines fresh produce and convenience products with digital services and catering. Food is mainly moving towards its web shop.


    A complete market hall

    The new 371 sqm store, called "Halle de Clichy", is a variation of the Carrefour City concept and aims to make Carrefour's intended 'food transition' visible to customers. The retailer has halved its normal range of processed food products, to free more space for traditional fresh food.


    The store has a range of 1200 fresh food products, a quarter of which are organic or carry the Carrefour Quality Chain label. Fruits (including dried fruits) and vegetables are sold in bulk. Shoppers will find themselves in a veritable market hall with its own fishmonger, a butcher and a cheese department. The staff is trained to offer culinary advice.


    To compensate for the limited range of dry food (4500 references instead of the 8000 present in regular Carrefour City stores), the Halle de Clichy has a pickup point that gives customers access to over 15,000 products on its web shop at hypermarket prices, delivered cost-free. Additional digital solutions are designed to make life easier for the local residents, including a pick-up point for parcels and home delivery. Besides traditional registers there are also self-service registers for added comfort and saving time.


    Meal solutions

    In the restaurant section 18 people can be seated and enjoy sandwiches, salads, quiches, hot and warm dishes any time of the day. All the meals are prepared on the spot and made from products from Carrefour's Quality Chain or Reflets de France. Finally, the store also offers meal solutions, including ready-made meals and Quitoque meal boxes.


    The store concept marks a new direction for Carrefour, one that other retailers are exploring as well. The idea is somewhat similar to the Fresh Atelier convenience concept recently presented by Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize: that concept combines a range of on-the-go products with a pick-up point. Recent statements from Ahold Delhaize CEO Wouter Kolk also went in the same direction: he predicted that supermarkets will play a different role in the future as 'eat-and-deliver centres' that have their own kitchens serving hot meals. Regular food products will mostly be ordered online, Kolk thinks.

  4. French chain Day by Day currently has just one store in Belgium where you can buy dry groceries in bulk (and none at all in the Netherlands), but wants to expand to 25 Belgian and 40 Dutch stores in four years' time. "Consumers are ready for us."


    Bulk's Belgian breakthrough

    Day by Day was founded by two French consultants in 2013, who now look beyond their borders. Currently the chain has 44 stores in France (all in franchise) and just the one abroad, but the goal is to have almost 200 stores by the end of 2022. France should make up for 120 stores, while Belgium's only store - opened last September - should have laid the foundation for a chain of 25 stores in the country. Founder David Sutrat also sees room for 40 stores in the Netherlands and 25 in Germany, countries where his chain is not yet active.


    It is no coincidence that Belgium is the first foreign market Day by Day ventures into: "Belgian consumers are ready for us: we believe that Belgium is the second country to embrace the bulk concept and things are moving fast. We believe there are already thirty or forty stores that offer products in bulk, compared to 180 in France", Sutrat says in Belgian newspaper La Libre.


    Zero waste

    Day by Day's founders believe consumers are ready to embrace their zero waste concept, as they start to understand the impact of disposable packaging and are getting fed up with waste. "When we started in 2013, the bulk grocery market was almost dead in France, but since 2015 it has risen again. We estimate this year's worth to be 850 million euro, but given the growth of food purchases outside of the wholesale and the growing number of alternative suppliers, that could be around 3.5 billion euro by the end of 2022."


    The founding pair is determined to surf that wave: not only by opening new stores, but also by creating new store concepts. They are currently testing tiny shops-in-shop at village grocers ("A la pesée", with just 44 product references) and at fruit and vegetable shops ("Poids et mesure", with around 150 product references). Moreover, there are plans to develop a whole supermarket that should also offer fresh produce ("Day by Day Grand marché en vrac") and a concept for train stations and airports "Moov'n'Vrac". To be continued?

  5. Walmart is moving onto the Japanese e-commerce market: the American retail giant is joining forces with Rakuten to sell its products on the latter's Rakuten Ichiba market place.


    Strategic alliance

    In the shop on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace, Japanese customers can choose from 1200 Walmart products. The digital store will initially be focused on fashion, outdoors items and toys. To keep prices transparent, the prices shown will include shipping, import duties and taxes. "We are very excited to be working with Walmart to bring a diverse product lineup of American brands at affordable prices to Rakuten Ichiba users in Japan" says Shunsuke Yazawa, CEO of the Rakuten marketplaces. Walmart's new Japanese subsidiary Seiyu GK will offer customer support.


    Walmart intends to use its partnership with Rakuten to expand in Japan. Simultaneously, Rakuten's e-reader platform Kobo provides Walmart with the opportunity to offer a wider collection of books in their dedicated web shop for e-books and audio books. The Walmart webshop on Rakuten Ichiba is part of that strategic alliance, says Walmart International's vice president Nathan Kring: "The two companies are leveraging their unique strengths and assets to expand consumer reach and enhance the way customers are served in Japan and the United States."


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