We've been in-store in Dublin to explore some of the latest retail/ food-to-go fusion concepts ahead of our April 25 safari.Here are some of the key things we took from our latest set of visits.
BWG - giving SPAR stores a new look and feel
One of the key headlines from our visit was the new look and feel we saw in BWG’s SPAR stores. SPAR Merrion Row, a long time favourite of ours in Dublin, is currently going through an upgrade that will bring many of these new elements. SPAR Shanowen Road is an impressive neighbourhood store, with an broad food-for-now offer, that already has had this treatment, while in SPAR Millennium Walkway we were able to see a food-to-go led concept, embodying the new look and feel, in a food hall style format. Insomnia coffee featured alongside an impressive deli counter, but in this store the food-to-go proposition was taken further, with a selection of other food-to-go counters, including The Pitta Project.
New food-to-go concepts from Musgrave
We continue to be impressed by the focus from Musgrave on developing new food-to-go capability and brands. Our latest visit took in one store that included Caramico, offering Neapolitan style pizza, and two that included Moo’d premium ice cream. This focus on developing new aspects to the proposition at Centra in particular has stood it in good stead over recent years, and from what we saw, feels set to continue to do so in the future. This ability to meet many different food-to-go needs is something encapsulated very well by many Centra stores, not least our 2017 Small Store of the Year award winner on Parnell St.
Further development of coffee
Getting coffee right in-store is often not easy, but our ShopperVista insight shows the wider importance of coffee in many food-to-go missions. Crucially, it also offers a great opportunity to differentiate, but can also be a negative for a retail store or food-to-go specialist if implemented badly, or if the wrong proposition is implemented.
But in Ireland we see some fantastic examples of convenience stores and forecourts doing an excellent job in coffee. On the forecourt, the likes of Circle K and Applegreen have made their coffee a priority, with sites offering both bean to cup machines and barista, reflecting the different missions and different customer groups. In convenience stores, the SPAR partnership with coffee shop chain Insomnia is now well-established in many stores, while Musgrave has done an excellent job in developing its own Frank & Honest brand, for barista served coffee on selected sites and bean to cup machines across the wider Centra (and increasingly SuperValu) estate.
Further forecourt evolution
Irish forecourts, pioneered in particular by Applegreen, have long had a reputation as being some of the best around. And we continue to be impressed by the sophistication and evolution of the offer. Increasingly the quality is such that forecourts are establishing themselves as go to destinations for a variety of different missions, many of which are travel related, but an increasing number of which aren’t. Applegreen’s latest store at Ballymount is a case in point. With a plethora of food options, this site has become a lunchtime destination for the local business park.
The continuing upgrade and enhancement of larger formats
While often the standout reason for any food-to-go visit to Ireland is to see how effectively food-to-go has been integrated into and developed by smaller formats, there’s more inspiration that can be taken from larger format stores as well. Dunnes Stores, for example, has been rolling out an impressive new look and feel to its stores, with a focus on recreating a market hall feel in-store, making features for example out of its butchers, deli and wider counter based offer. Its latest stores also provide a great opportunity to see how it integrates its coffee shop business, Café Sol, into its stores.
Dublin remains a food-to-go market that inspires
Dublin remains one of our go to markets in Europe for food-to-go innovation, offering inspiration in formats, range and capability. If you want your business to be inspired by the best practice in this space that Dublin has to offer, then join us on in Dublin on April 25 on our retail/food-to-go fusion safari – click here for more details and to book your place.