Sainsbury's is working with The Restaurant Group to test new food-to-go concession concepts in a number of stores.
The Restaurant Group (TRG) has become the latest foodservice operator to trial concessions in Sainsbury’s stores with the launch of Grains and Greens, a salad box concept, and Mezze Box, a Lebanese concept.
Grains and Greens: first look
We visited the new Grains and Greens counter in Sainsbury’s Heyford Hill, Oxford to take an early look at the concept.
Grains and Greens branding is bright and colourful and communicates freshness and health.
The counter was located at the rear of the store, close to the fresh meat/fish, pizza and Sushi Gourmet counters, with signage above the store entrance to direct shoppers.
The salad bar serves build-your-own salad boxes in two sizes, alongside grab-and-go wraps and soups. It also offers prepared ready meals to be heated at home.
The Heyford Hill store is located on the busy city ring road, close to numerous offices and residential areas with little developed food-to-go other than fast food brands on a neighbouring retail park. Grains and Greens could help attract office workers looking for a healthy lunch, also tempting them with something more filling for their evening meal.
TRG: an experienced partner
Whilst TRG is best known as the owner of established UK restaurant chains such as Frankie and Benny’s, Wagamama and Garfunkel’s, it also operates a growing concessions business. TRG Concessions manages over 35 different brands, including its own brands, bespoke concepts designed for specific locations and third-party brands operated on a franchise basis. The business focusses predominantly on busy airport and railway transport hubs with over 20 locations across the UK.
TRG is one of several concessions businesses rapidly expanding their brand portfolio and moving into new types of locations, in the UK and further afield. The partnership with Sainsbury’s marks its first trial in a supermarket retail space.
Continuing the retailer-foodservice partnership trend
This latest partnership follows trials with Patisserie Valerie, Crussh and Zizzi counter-style concessions in Sainsbury’s stores, whilst Marks & Spencer have been working with Wasabi since 2017 and Tesco announced a rollout of instore-kiosks with Yo! Sushi in 2018.
So far, the trials have had mixed results: Sainsbury’s continues to operate over 40 Patisserie Valerie concessions, and has a successful Crussh concession in its Pimlico store. It has also extended its relationship with Sushi Gourmet owners, Hana Group, to launch streetfood counters Little India Kitchen and Wok Street in its new Selly Oak store. However, earlier this month, Zizzi owner Azzuri announced that it had closed its counter in Sainsbury’s Balham store, stating that although feedback was excellent, shoppers were still very much in grocery shopping mode which meant that the channel wasn’t viable for them at the moment. Of the six Wasabi concessions in M&S, two have now closed.
Expect further trials as partnerships evolve
Although the projects to date may not have always achieved anticipated results, we expect to see partnerships between supermarket retailers and foodservice specialists continue to evolve. With the right consumer offer and commercial agreement in place, this strategy could be a win-win for both parties: retailers with spare space to fill and a desire to grow profitable categories can give shoppers an extra reason to visit, and foodservice operators looking to expand their estates away from costly town centre locations gain access to new high footfall sites with split costs. With such shared opportunities available, look out for news of more trials as retailers and foodservice specialists experiment and perfect their partnerships.
Where to see retailer-foodservice partnerships in action
Sainsbury’s/TRG Concessions - Grain and Greens
- Merton, south west London
- Heyford Hill, Oxford
- Springfield, Chelmsford
Sainsbury’s/TRG Concessions – Mezze Box
- Clapham High Street, London
- Richmond, London
Sainsbury’s/Hana Group – Little Indian Kitchen and Wok Street
Tesco/Yo! To Go
- Sunbury Extra, Surrey
- Bournemouth Extra, Dorset
- Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
- Stratford, London
- Kingston, Surrey
- Marble Arch, London