Inside America’s food retail flagships

Date : 02 October 2019

We highlight the must-see stores from the leading US food retailers, including several recently opened locations, and the reasons why such developments are important.

Switching investments towards remodels

Over the last few years, we have seen a renewed focus on store development, with most retailers switching more of their capex towards remodels. For the majority, the emphasis has been placed on creating more experiential and engaging in-store environments. Fresh and prepared foods have taken centre focus as retailers aim to drive basket spend, deliver a better margin mix and encourage shoppers to spend longer in-store.

Why retailers develop flagship stores

Flagship developments have several purposes:

  • A showcase for investors and analysts to demonstrate future thinking and how the proposition will evolve over time
  • A test bed for new initiatives, concepts and technology with a view to testing ROI and operational execution capabilities
  • Providing a platform for roll-out, discovering how to develop scaled-back versions with lower capex but achieving the same impact
  • To drive team engagement and energy within the business, particularly as it looks at wider business transformation

Here’s our round-up of the latest flagship developments from the leading US food retailers.

Walmart, Dallas, Georgia

  • Remodelled store launched in September, offering an enhanced shopping experience in key departments including electronics, pharmacy and vision
  • Key reason to visit is to see the first Walmart Health Center, offering low transparent pricing for services including primary care, labs, X-ray and EKG, dental, optical, hearing, community health and health insurance education
  • Store also features an Essentials PetCare clinic, providing routine pet vaccinations and treatment for a variety of minor illnesses

Source: Walmart

Kroger, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Flagship downtown store, opened in September, featuring a 7,000 sq. ft dedicated food hall on the second floor, seating up to 200
  • The ‘On the Rhine Eatery’ features several third-party restaurants, as well as Kroger's own restaurant concept, 1883. Other restaurants include Eli's Barbeque, DOPE! Asian Street Fare, Queen City Whip and Django Western Taco
  • Stores also offers Kroger Rush, a new 30-minute delivery service for selected items. It also plans to add restaurant delivery, while the in-store Starbucks is piloting a walk-up window for drink orders

Source: Kroger

Target, Houston, Texas

  • Launched in 2017, this store has been the blueprint for a major remodelling project which is set to impact 1,000 stores by the end of 2020
  • The store features two entrances. One is focused on ease, with quick order pickup, grab and go food and a wine and beer shop. The other focuses on inspiration, featuring displays for exclusive brands and seasonal moments
  • The food and beverage department features a new look and feel, offering shoppers a more contemporary shopping experience

Source: IGD Research

Albertsons Market Street, Meridian, Idaho

  • Launched in March, this is one of two new stores located close to the retailer’s HQ. At almost 100,000 sq ft, it’s the largest in the retailer’s network
  • The next generation store features live music, cooking classes, catering services, an expanded in-store restaurant-style food court, full bar and walk-in wine cellar
  • Fresh is the focus with a 40 ft meat counter and 27 ft seafood counter. The store also features a live lobster tank, an oyster bar and poke bar

Giant Heirloom Market (Ahold Delhaize), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Opening in January, the retailer launched Heirloom Market under the Giant banner. This is a new store concept specifically curated for urban neighbourhoods, with a focus on connecting urban customers to real food and inspiring the local community to eat better for less
  • Featuring a contemporary design, striking signage helps distinguish areas in the store and guide customers. Quirky naming conventions provide character; “Land and Sea” for meat and fish and “Garden” for produce
  • To encourage deeper connections with grocery shopping and Heirloom Market’s food, there are interesting touch points across the store to stimulate more senses than a typical grocery shopping experience. These include kombucha taps, dedicated sampling station and a self-service olive oil and balsamic vinegar station

Source: IGD Research

Publix Greenwise Market, Mountain Brook, Alabama

  • Opening in July, this is third location for the second generation Greenwise Market format
  • The retailer has set out to create a unique shopping experience, developed on the pillars of convenience and healthy living. It places an emphasis on natural, organic and specialty items and providing shoppers with creative meal solutions
  • The store offers a range of prepared foods including fresh, handcrafted sandwiches, acai bowls, gourmet pizzas, burritos, bowls, sushi and sausage made in-house. The GreenWise Market concept also features a beverage bar, serving kombucha, local craft beer, wine, smoothies and locally-roasted coffee

Source: Publix

Aldi, Lacey, New Jersey

  • With an aggressive $5bn store opening and remodelling plan in place, which will take the retailer to 2,500 stores by the end of 2022, we’re featuring one of its most recent openings
  • This location reflects the latest design concept, featuring expanded fresh food ranges, illuminated light boxes and wooden style fixtures in produce and wine
  • This helps to convey a more contemporary and higher quality image, although the retailer continues to reinforce its low-price proposition and efficiency-based model

HEB, Houston Heights, Texas

  • Opening in January, this is the retailer’s flagship concept, and one where it has invested to reflect the uniqueness of the store’s neighbourhood
  • With a focus on convenience, the store features a large meals-solutions centre at the front entrance and offers the retailer’s Curbside pickup service. The Cooking Connection centre and Showtime Kitchen feature live demonstrations and daily samplings using quick and easy recipes
  • The store features an impressive seafood department with fresh sushi and poke bowls, while the bakery and Tortillería offers a wide range of organic and artisan breads, pastries and custom cakes

Source: IGD Research

Whole Foods Market (Amazon), Atlanta, Georgia

  • Opening in February, this 70,000 sq ft store is the retailer’s 500th store and flagship concept for the southern region
  • The retailer’s fresh credentials come to life through unique features including a fruit and vegetable butcher, meat cutting room with a full-service ‘old-world’ style butcher services and a bakery department offering in-house made and locally-produced artisan breads
  • Hot and cold prepared food options include a salad bar, soup wells, self-serve pizza, sushi, a sandwich station with made-to-order sandwiches, rotisserie chickens, plant-focused grain bowls, and seasonally rotating culinary pop-up stations. It also offers build-your-own avocado toast and lettuce wrap bars, and a skillet bar offering items such as fried chicken, wings, and fried fish

7-Eleven, Dallas, Texas

  • The retailer launched this ‘lab’ store in March and is the first 7-Eleven to incorporate the Laredo Taco Company taqueria. This is a business famous in South Texas for its handmade tortillas made from scratch in stores every day and its salsa bar with on-site, daily prepared salsas, guacamole and pico de gallo
  • The store offers made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices, smoothies and agua frescas. It also carries beverages on tap including nitro cold brew, kombucha and organic teas
  • The store is also testing digital initiatives that enhance the shopping experience, including Scan & Pay technology that allows customers to skip the checkout line and pay for items on their smartphones

Join a Retail Safari with our experts

Visit these stores to see how retailers are driving category and digital innovation, future-proofing their formats and raising the bar on store design through our analyst led study tours.

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Stewart Samuel

Program Director IGD Services Canada

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