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Troubled bakery chain Patisserie Valerie has been saved from collapse in a management buyout backed by Irish private equity firm, Causeway Capital Partners.

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We round up the latest developments from leading Nordic retailers as they invest in supermarkets, convenience, online and foodservice.

Norway: NorgesGruppen’s Meny launches new Gourmet and Urban banners

NorgesGruppen’s MENY supermarket banner is launching two new concepts; Meny Gourmet and Meny Urban.

Meny Gourmet will be the larger store concept which aims to create “good dining experiences for customers”. The stores will focus on exclusive goods, manned vegetable dishes and cheese and meats. Meny CC Vest, one of Meny’s largest stores, will pilot the new concept.

Meny Urban will be smaller stores located in city centres. The stores may be as small as 500 sq. m to help Meny to establish itself. They will sell take-away hot food and drinks as well as groceries.

The retailer has identified 15 existing sites that would suit the Meny Gourmet concept, and seven that would suit the MENY Urban Concept. MENY will also look to open new stores with these concepts in mind too.

Despite this, around 200 Meny stores will remain regular stores, with the option to choose items from the Urban and Gourmet concepts where appropriate

Commenting on the new store concepts, Vegard Kjuus, head of Meny, said, “We see that people are more happy about food, they travel more, enjoy eating out and want good take away solutions. It is also where there is greatest growth at the moment. While a mall may have a growth of perhaps one percent a year, a restaurant or coffee shop may have seven percent growth. It says something about the possibilities for Menu Urban”.

Sweden: Reitangruppen’s Pressbyrån to open unmanned convenience concept…

Meanwhile, Reitangruppen’s convenience format Pressbyrån is launching a new unstaffed convenience concept. Stores will offer a range of ready-packed products, including fresh pastries and sandwiches, among others. Initially these will be opened in offices but Pressbyrån hopes the concept will be rolled out to other locations besides offices in the long term.

CEO Mariette Kristenson said, “Based on each situation, we will be able to optimise the supply according to that customer's demand, it can be anything from hygiene items to a unique magazine range”.

…As it acquires Caffeine Roasters in the Baltics

In related news Reitan Convenience has acquired the coffee chain Caffeine Roasters after gaining regulatory approval from the Lithuanian competition authorities.

Caffeine Roasters, established in 2007, is the largest coffee chain in the Baltics. As part of the acquisition, Reitangruppen will gain all 60 of Caffeine Roasters’ coffee shops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Commenting on the acquisition, CEO Johannes Sangnes said, “All formalities are now in order, and we look forward to starting work on further developing Caffeine Roaster's solid position in the Baltics. Caffeine Roasters is one of the strongest brands for coffee shops in the Baltics, and they are known for their quality coffee and good service”.

Elsewhere in Europe, retailers in the UK and Ireland are also investing in coffee. IGD Retail Analysis subscribers, can access our exclusive insight presentation on
“Coffee-to-go in convenience stores” here.

Sweden: Bergendahls’ Eko targets 37 stores

In Sweden, Bergendahls’ is planning to expand its Eko (not organic) supermarket concept with two to three store openings planned a year. The concept aims to offer leading brands at low prices and currently operates five stores in Borås, Fjälkinge, Kalmar, Malmö and Västerås. It is set to open an additional store in Örebro by the end of February 2019. The long-term goal for Eko is to open 37 stores in the country.

In an interview with Swedish trade press, CEO Ted Berggren said it will target stores of over 7,000 sq. m situated in locations with more than 80,000 residents, although locations with 100,000 – 120,000 are ideal. Product ranges include seasonal, household and cleaning products, flowers, toys, confectionary and hair and body care. The store also features Lekia, a flower shop, and Hemmakväll, a lighting shop.

Finland: S Group helps local suppliers sell online

Elsewhere, Finland’s S Group has announced it will launch a pilot to help local suppliers sell their products through S Group’s online store.  Orders will then be delivered to shoppers via their local Prisma pickup point. Local suppliers determine their prices while S Group charges commission. The pilot will be trialled in 2019 in Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa and Satakunta.

Antti Oksa, director of selection at S Group, explained, “We want to provide our customers with the opportunity to buy food directly from producers by combining shopping with the online food order. At the same time, a new channel of interest for producers will open up for other direct sales”.

The direct sales model has been developed with Mtech Digital Solutions.

Want to keep up with the latest developments from leading retailers including NorgesGruppen, Reitangruppen, Bergendahls and S Group? Sign up for IGD’s free Retail Analysis international newsletter.

This week Shell began the rollout of its new food-to-go collaboration with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.  We visited the Beaconsfield Services forecourt to take an early look at the new concept.

First impressions

Visiting motorists should be aware of the new range as soon as they arrive at the forecourt.  The concept is well-communicated both inside and outside with external signage on pumps, bollards and windows, and posters, bunting and balloons instore.  A recognisable face to millions of UK shoppers, Jamie Oliver features heavily in promotional materials helping the new brand to benefit from his trusted reputation for down-to-earth, healthy and tasty food.

In-store presentation

The new range is presented in a counter directly opposite the store entrance (formerly a deli2go counter) and a chiller cabinet nearer the checkouts.  The new branding is lighter, brighter and more modern than deli2go which certainly helps to communicate the change in Shell’s food-to-go offering.

The counter was an existing feature of this store so may not be introduced to smaller sites, however here it enhances the perception of freshly prepared food.  A selection of hot food-to-go items including traditional pastry goods as well as a premium hog roast sausage roll, new chilli and curry hot pots, hearty wraps and toasties and a range of breakfast items are served from the counter, alongside cakes and pastries.

The food

Fruit and veg snack pots, salad bowls and even sushi now sit alongside traditional favourites such as the substantial BLT Triple (now with black pepper mayo) demonstrating Shell's desire to broaden its food-to-go appeal to new customers.

Premiumisation, lighter options and new product formats extend into breakfast too, with a new egg, bacon and beans hot pot (also a vegetarian version with eggs, beans, mushroom and spinach), two varieties of porridge and a bacon roll with tomato chutney, amongst other hot and cold dishes.

Traffic light labelling is clearly visible on packaging and according to Shell, 60% of the range is now green or amber rated, helping customers choose healthier options.

The £4.99 meal deal is clearly signposted and priced comparably to the £5 meal deal at the nearby M&S at Beaconsfield Services.

And children aren't forgotten - two new sarnie boxes (chicken or cheese) should keep travelling little ones - and their parents - happy.

 What we think

Jamie Oliver has become a trusted brand, well-know to the British public for promoting healthy eating and tasty, filling food.  This makes him a great choice for Shell who are aiming to retain their existing loyal customers whilst introducing lighter options to appeal to new consumer groups, particularly women.

In-store execution in this site works well with the counter providing a focal point for food-to-go in-store and plenty of space to showcase the breadth of the new range.  We’ll be visiting smaller sites later this month to see how execution works in a more restricted area.

Overall, this collaboration demonstrates how a retailer can make a step-change in its food-to-go proposition by working with the right partner.  Read more about partnerships in food-to-go in our Food-to-go trends 2019 report.

In addition to expanding its Home Chef meal kits range to 500 additional stores, Kroger is also enabling shoppers to customise their kits online.

Range available in 700 locations

Kroger introduced the Home Chef range of meal kits into its stores last October following its acquisition of the company. Although the retailer had developed its own range, Prep & Pared, in-house, the acquisition enabled it to accelerate its progress in this area. Home Chef is operated as a subsidiary of the second largest grocery chain in the US and continues to offer a subscription-based delivery service. The expansion of the offer to these additional stores will take the deployment to 700 locations.

While most meal kit companies started as online-only services, most of the major brands have migrated into the in-store environment. For many customers, this is a more convenient option, rather than having a regular subscription. Several retailers are building a multi-channel offer for meal kits. 

Testing the offer in 65 Walgreens locations

Recently, Kroger introduced the newly developed Home Chef Express range into 65 Walgreens locations in Chicago. This provides the business with a volume benefit and an opportunity to test the offer in urban locations. Kroger is also currently piloting Kroger Express food departments with 13 Walgreens stores as part of a broader strategic partnership with the drugstore operator.

Source: Kroger 

Customisation will provide more choice

Home Chef is also introducing the ability to customise meal kits for home delivery. Through its website, using the ‘Customize It’ feature, customers can swap, double, or upgrade ingredients within several of the kits. Home Chef is the first major meal kit to offer this functionality. While it may impact operational productivity, it will enable customers to have a wider variety of choices, tackling one of the key challenges within the segment. Home Chef could also use insights from this programme to refine its meal kit offer. 

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An analysis of Subways strategic priorities and how it is planning for growth in a competitive market, with learnings for suppliers.

As food-to-go becomes an increasingly popular route to growth, we assess the key trends that will shape development in the year ahead.

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Across Europe and North America, IGD takes you ‘on safari’ to the best stores in a market, targeting the innovations and category developments that offer the sharpest insights relevant to your business. View our short video, ‘3 lessons in Food-to-go fusion in Dublin’ taken from our recent safari in Dublin.