Three ways foodservice partnerships are driving growth in Finland

Date : 21 July 2020

Harriet Cohen

Senior Retail Analyst

As retailers across the Nordics invest in foodservice opportunities in-store, out of store and online, we share some of the latest innovations from Finland.

1. Europe’s biggest sushi seller and country’s biggest venue in new partnership

Kesko K-Citymarket Järvenpää, which won the IGD Store of the Year award 2019 claims to be Europe’s biggest sushi seller, selling thousands of kilograms of sushi weekly.

The store owner has developed a unique concept, following multiple research trips to Japan. The counter is run by an experienced Japanese sushi master. It offers a wide variety of individual sushi, which can be purchased by weight, as well as platters that can be ordered at competitive prices.

Source: K-Citymarket Järvenpää, IGD Research

Building on this reputation, the store has now partnered with Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena, Finland’s largest venue; attended by one million visitors.

Although there have been no events this spring due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the arena has launched a major renovation of its hospitality offer, restaurant and customer areas. As part of the refurbishment, it has launched a new sushi restaurant, Warabino. Although sushi is made at the central kitchen within the arena, K-Citymarket Järvenpää has provided the recipes, ingredients and methods involved.

Source: STT Info

Food can be eaten in the restaurant, ordered for delivery to visitors’ seats or for collection via the Restis restaurant app.

Commenting on the partnership, K-Citymarket Järvenpää owner Markku Hautala said, ‘We are very pleased with this collaboration. It's great that we can combine world-class entertainment with world-class sushi’.

2. Lidl expands partnership with Fuku sushi chain

In other sushi-related developments, Lidl has doubled its partnership with Finland’s Fuku sushi chain, with the Fuku range now available in 40 stores around the Helsinki metropolitan area, including new poke bowls.

Source: Lidl Finland

Products are made and delivered the very same day

A press release from the retailer highlights that sushi is made and delivered to store the same day, ensuring freshness.

Commenting on the development, Thomas Heinrichs, Lidl’s Head of Purchasing said, ‘This has been an important step for us. We have been able to ensure flexible deliveries of products ultra-fresh … and match order quantities so that there are enough products and no losses. With Fuku, this has been an excellent success’.

New opportunities to 'bring the restaurant home'

Heinrichs continued, ‘The border between shop and restaurant is blurred. More and more customers are looking for relief in everyday life and want ready-made portions for different situations. People want to eat more and more quality and they are happy to buy food from their favourite restaurant in-store. That way you can bring the restaurant home'.

3. S Group repurposes Food Market Herkku’s in-store bistro for takeaway in collaboration with Michelin chef

In other news, S Group’s flagship Food Market Herkku store in Helsinki, which featured in IGD’s research on Top 16 stores you must visit in 2019, has repurposed its in-store bistro to create a pop-up ‘Demo’ restaurant in partnership with Michelin starred chef Tommi Tuomonen. The main restaurant has held a Michelin star since 2004, making it Finland’s longest standing Michelin restaurant.

The partnership with Food Market Herkku features four different menu items and an additional weekly special, with freshly cooked, ready to eat dishes made at the in-store bistro kitchen for takeaway. The dishes can also be purchased online and although the store offers a variety of takeaway food, the Demo products are now the bestselling takeaway lines in-store.

Fixed menu items include:

  • Duck leg confit, pineapple and truffle-flavoured early cabbage (€19.50)
  • Salmon pastrami and tabbouleh salad (€12.50)
  • Seafood chorizo paella (€14)
  • Glazed beef cheek, grilled carrot chutney and rice (€9)

Source: Food Market Herkku, Instagram

High quality, affordable options

Commenting on the partnership, Mika Heikkinen, Chain Director of Food Market Herkku said, ‘It is important for us to offer high-quality top dishes at Food Market Herkku, but also alternatives that are suitable for a wide range of needs. Demo servings are sold in three different price categories: one cheaper option for less than 10 euros, 2-3 medium-priced products and one special option in the price category of about 20 euros’.

So what do we think?

Although different in nature, these partnerships demonstrate how retailers can maximise the sales opportunities in meal solutions and food-to-go.

K-Citymarket Järvenpää’s external partnership has helped it build on the strength and reputation of its sushi offer to drive sales in a new out of home channel, which may have previously be run by other restaurant brands or event owner operated.

Meanwhile, Lidl’s growing partnership with the popular Fuku sushi chain, with products being made and delivered the very same day, allows shoppers to choose from super-fresh and high quality products at an affordable price point.

S Group’s collaboration with a renowned Michelin-starred chef on a new takeaway service demonstrates flexibility and agility in targeting growing shopper trends amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The bestselling nature of the dishes also drives footfall and helps the retailer compete with other food-to-go operators and home delivery providers.

What next?

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