Retail Safari: Boston

Date : 04 November 2015

In our city feature series, Retail Safari, we highlight some of the best stores we have visited in European and North American cities. Following our first two features on Vancouver and Amsterdam, we’re shifting our focus to Boston, a city where the grocery retail landscape demonstrates influences from both continents. Stewart Samuel, Program Director at IGD Canada, shares his pick of the stores to see.

Roche Bros.

Roche Bros. is a well-established, supermarket operator in the Boston area. Earlier this year it opened its first store in the downtown city core in the basement of the former Filene’s department store, a renowned location. One of the innovative features of the store is a street-level entrance and small retail space which offers a range of food-to-go items, including a salad bar, pre-packed ranges and a hot cookie plate.

The basement store features a contemporary look and feel, with outstanding bakery and prepared foods departments. It also features a ‘Chop Shop’ in its produce department, where over 40 varieties of vegetables are cut fresh daily, chef-style and recipe ready.

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is a retailer which I aim to get to in every city I visit. Its approach to building a differentiated and localised offer means that each experience is unique. Bakery is a category where the retailer continues to excel both in terms of product offer and merchandising. Located at the front of this store, adjacencies are created with a number of other departments including hot food, where the pizza oven stands behind an impressive display of hand-crafted bakery products, and its coffee and ice cream offer, which is located next to its premium confectionery range.

Local ranges are prominently featured within a dedicated area of the store. This area includes feature boxes for many of its local suppliers and those which have participated in its local producer loan program. ‘I’m a local’ shelf-edge tags are used throughout the store to highlight relevant products.


Wegmans has been making a push steadily northwards over the last few years, with Boston being a key target. With a strong reputation for its fresh and hot food ranges, this store does not disappoint. Fresh produce is outstanding with the retailer finding a great balance in delivering a price and quality orientated proposition. The retailer also offers an extensive range of organics and uses sales floor prep areas to create an element of retail theatre.

Prepared foods are a core competency, and the retailer continues to be the one to watch in the US. It offers an extensive range of cuisines, all prepared freshly on-site by a foods team which can number up to 100 people. The offer is also tailored to meet local needs and the store features an extensive seating area, encouraging shoppers to stay and spend time in-store.


bfresh is a newcomer to the Boston retail scene, opening in September this year. Developed by Ahold and its Fresh Formats subsidiary, the concept is a bold and refreshing one for the US market. At around 1,000 SQ M it is one of the best examples of format blurring in action, combining a strong core fresh food focused offer with a unique food-to-go concept. The store features a contemporary design with exposed floors and ceilings.

The food-to-go offer has been developed in partnership with La Place from the Netherlands. This ensures a unique experience and a broad range of high quality meal solutions which are prepared daily at the store, often in front of customers’ eyes. The offer includes pasta, salads, sandwiches, sushi, stir fry and carvery.

Stop & Shop

Staying with Ahold, Stop & Shop is its primary larger format banner in the US. With a high level of penetration in the Boston market and surrounding areas, the retailer has been placing an increased focus on fresh foods. Beyond a stronger focus on product quality and freshness, this has included remodelling departments and introducing a new graphics package.

Food-to-go and prepared foods are very strong in this format. Alongside a traditional deli where a range of meal solutions are offered, the store also offers sushi, in-store prepared sandwiches, a salad bar and rotisserie chicken. At the deli it offers a ‘skip the line’ service, enabling shoppers to place their orders at a self-service kiosk, and collect them at the end of their shopping trip.

Retail Safari: study tours

At IGD we have a team dedicated to facilitating study trips for retailers, manufacturers and other companies engaged in the food and grocery supply chain. Gaining perspectives and learnings from other markets can help you to:

  • Drive your format and category innovation
  • Discover new product and packaging trends
  • See the latest display concepts
  • Understand successful price and promotional tactics
  • Get hands-on experience of the latest in-store digital initiatives

Through working with IGD, our team can build a customised and relevant tour for you and your teams, selecting the best stores for you based on your criteria and our unique insight into the operators in major cities in Europe and North America. We’ll join you on the tour, to lead and help you get the most from the session, and we can call on our extensive global network of retailer contacts to help you get unique access to stores and operations.

Talk to our team today to see how we can support your innovation strategy and drive business performance.

In Europe, contact Gavin Rothwell ([email protected])

In North America, contact Stewart Samuel ([email protected])