In an interview in Financial Dagblad the chief executive of Albert Heijn, Wouter Kolk, discussed the potential to increase the pace of expansion of its convenience-focused fascia, Albert Heijn to Go.
The interview was followed later in the same week by the announcement that Albert Heijn would be trialing six Albert Heijn to Go stores on BP forecourts, with the first set to be opened in autumn 2016, as part of its attempts to find new locations to add its stores.
Investigating new location opportunities…
Kolk said that the retailer is undertaking discussions with various potential partners which could lead to it adding stores in companies’ offices, on university campuses, train stations or in motorway service stations. As the market becomes more competitive, retailers are looking to target shoppers in new locations, with a variety of strategies emerging in terms of how retailers flex their formats, in order to maintain store openings, whilst maximising appeal for shoppers and to enable them to meet a range of missions.
…And driving faster product development
To help drive footfall and loyalty, Kolk underlined the importance of product innovation in encouraging shoppers to keep coming back as they look inspiration or for something new. Kolk noted that about a quarter of the products in Albert Heijn to Go were renewed in 2015, which was a pace that was ‘significantly faster than normal’. To enable the faster pace of innovation Kolk said that the retailer had created smaller product development teams to enable them to work more effectively, while the size of management teams had been reduced in an attempt to encourage initiative.
Albert Heijn to Go to trial forecourt-based stores with BP
As part of a separate announcement, following on from Kolk’s interview in Financial Dagblad, Albert Heijn signed an agreement with BP to trial the addition of Albert Heijn to Go stores at six BP service stations. Albert Heijn said that it was aiming to open the first of the stores during the autumn. Both parties highlighted the success of the Albert Heijn to Go format in the country more widely as being behind the faith that they both put in its success on BP’s forecourts, despite a previous trial between BP and UK-based Marks & Spencer ending in September 2015.