Belgium: four ways retailers are responding to COVID-19

Harriet Cohen
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 21 October 2020

We highlight recent developments from Belgium, where retailers are pivoting their food-to-go and online offers to meet shopper needs.

1. Delhaize discontinues Fresh Atelier food-to-go concept

Delhaize has discontinued the Fresh Atelier food-to-go concept, which it originally launched in Brussels in 2018. At the time, the retailer saw the potential for 200 of these sites.

Delhaize now plans to convert ten of the existing stores into Shop & Go and convert some others into a new concept. One store at Brussels North Station will be retained. In related news, UK food-to-go specialist Pret is closing six more stores London stores as the impact of coronavirus continues to take its toll on footfall in the capital.

Commenting on the decision, spokesperson Roel Dekelver said, ‘We have learned a lot from this and we have implemented elements from the chain in other concepts. But the circumstances are against us: since March there is no demand for food 'on the go' and at the moment we don't see any perspective’.

2. Colruyt to trial meal delivery from dark kitchen service…

In other news, with retailers looking to use space in new ways and meet shoppers’ demands for new meal solutions, Colruyt is to trial a meal delivery service in Brussels. The trial’s announcement follows Kroger’s launch of two ‘ghost’ kitchens in Indianapolis and Columbus, underlining how innovative retailers are looking to benefit from shoppers’ changing buying habits and occasions. Stressing the service is a trial, Colruyt has said it is aiming to understand shoppers who want to use it more and see how it can help meet their needs more.

Colruyt’s service has been launched under the name Rose Mary, which aims to provide shoppers with healthy, fresh meals for delivery. The retailer has repurposed space in its Colruyt Group Academy, which was unable to operate during the lockdown, enabling chefs to prepare meals it describes as fresh, high-quality, tasty, and special, across three categories: twisted classics, tasty healthies and world kitchen.

The meals are a healthy alternative for shoppers, while also being a convenient solution, as they just need to be warmed up. Colruyt also stressed the services’ relatively quick turnaround; orders made before 12:00pm will be delivered that evening by bike courier.

3. …And grocery delivery by cargo bike

In a separate trial, which will last nine weeks, Colruyt has extended its Collect&Go service to enable shoppers to collect orders in Place Flagey, in Brussels city centre. The Collect&Go City service enables shoppers to buy online for collection in a different, more convenient location, with delivery to the site carried out by cargo bike. Orders can be collected between the hours of 15:30 and 19:45, after three hours of being placed. The orders will be picked from a nearby store, where they will be collated.

The range is targeted at city-based shoppers, with the offer focused on meeting the needs of those who shop several times a week for small baskets. Shoppers will be able to buy from a range of 500 fresh products and ingredients for about 15 recipes, which the retailer has said can be added to their shopping basket with one click. Colruyt said shoppers will also be able to buy ready meals from its chilled department and those available through the Rose Mary service too.

4. Cora collaborates with Uber Eats

Elsewhere in the market, Cora is to partner with Uber Eats to enable shoppers in the Brussels region, specifically the communities of Woluwe and Anderlecht, to order via the latter’s service. Shoppers use the Uber Eats app to order from a curated range of products, including ready meals, fresh products, across the bakery, dairy, fruits and vegetables categories, amongst others. Deliveries will be made to shoppers in a three-kilometre radius of Cora’s hypermarkets in 30 minutes. Uber Eats already works with Carrefour, following the latter’s extension of its agreement in July.

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