Food-to-go in small formats: why Switzerland is a market to learn from

Date : 25 April 2019

We share some of the findings from our recent report Food-to-go: small formats from across Europe to learn from, with a focus on one market that may to some be a surprising hotbed of format innovation.

Leading retailers have been keen to diversify

Switzerland is a food retail market that is characterised by two key retailers, Migros and Coop Schweiz. Both have and established track record in running smaller formats, and in particular those in transport locations, primarily railway stations, where the rules that restrict broader opening hours in Switzerland don’t apply. This has provided a platform from which to expand and innovate. Alongside this, a significant factor favouring food-to-go growth in Switzerland is the fact that eating out can be very expensive.

But more recently we’ve seen a strong progression in what both Migros and Coop Schweiz are doing, with a particular focus on the food-to-go space. With a combination of tempting, quality food and drink to go, a focus on efficiency, and impressive store formats that deliver the in-store ambiance and customer service of a food-to-go specialist, some of the latest formats in Switzerland providing leading examples to learn from for the evolution of food-to-go in retail.

Coop Schweiz – wide range of hot and cold grab & go and a focus on freshness and colour

Coop Schweiz operates c.20 of its Coop to go stores, with the best to our mind being the Stauffacher store in central Zurich. The store is heavily focused on food-to-go, with a modest seating area to one side of the store. An open store design gives great visibility to the range breadth, which has an extensive selection of hot and cold lines, as well as healthier and more indulgent options. There’s effective use of colour across the store to signpost different products, while in a high labour cost economy like Switzerland, there’s a focus on self-serve over counter-served solutions. At our Food-to-go Summit last November, Format Manager Martin Stutz spoke of how the core values of the format around freshness, speed and friendliness provide the framework to drive loyalty.   

Source: IGD Research

Migros Daily – testing new meal solutions to attract lunchtime consumers

The latest format Migros Daily concept, close to but in a separate building from the main railway station in Bern (Welle 7) has taken the retailer’s existing strengths in this space to a new level. The tandoor ovens provide a differentiated focal point to draw customers in, and the protein (meat and fish) that feeds into several of its food-to-go solutions. A bank of seven coffee machines is designed to take advantage of the breakfast trade, making it a quick and easy solution for time-pressed consumers en route to work, clearly supported by enticing pastries as well as healthier breakfast options. Migros primarily focuses ranges on its own ranges, with a focus on specific Migros Daily branding, as well as its more artisan Anna’s Best range.

Source: IGD Research

Innovation to learn from across wider food-to-go and convenience 

But food-to-go is by no means just about Coop and Migros in Switzerland, with a wide range of specialists operators in this space. The Hitzberger chain, set up by the Michelin starred chef Eduard Hitzberger, offers premium, natural, food-to-go, while Seven Spices, in Bern and Geneva Airport, is a different take on selling kebabs, with fresh and quality ingredients the focus, enabling it to drive day long appeal.

Aldi, too, has been experimenting, in this space. While not yet going as far as others, its recently opened store on Lausanne station is primarily focused around on-the-move missions. Avec, too, has been experimenting with formats, in its case recently testing an unmanned convenience pop-up store in Zurich station. While this test store has now closed, it will no doubt take the learnings from this into the development of its broader network.

Want to find out more about winning small formats across Europe? If you subscribe already take a look at our report Food-to-go: small formats from across Europe to learn from.

Want to see these stores in person? Get in touch about our retail and food-to-go safari solutions.