How Reitan Convenience is developing the convenience stores of the future

Date : 25 March 2021

Harriet Cohen

Senior Retail Analyst

Although performance at urban convenience stores has been challenged amidst COVID-19 in many Western European markets; Reitan Convenience has invested in four new concept stores as it seeks to be fit for the future in partnership with design agency Reactor AB.

These new store concepts elevate the customer experience across its formats to a whole new level, while PBX could set the benchmark for sustainable small format stores of the future.

In this exclusive article, we’ll tell you more about the highlights of each format, featuring photos and videos to bring concepts to life.

Looking for more inspiration in the Nordics more widely? IGD Retail Analysis subscribers can access this exclusive article, ‘10 Nordic stores to visit in 2021’.

1. Debut of PBX with ambition to create ‘the world’s most sustainable convenience store’

Source: Reactor AB
Address: Albano area, Stockholm

Reitan Convenience has launched a new brand, PBX, as it looks to create ‘the world’s most sustainable convenience store’. The concept is part of the retailer’s sustainability strategy, which it developed with Prosperous Planet in 2019.

It will act as a ‘living lab’, where the Company will be able to ‘test and evaluate what is most sustainable in terms of both operation and supply’.

Where will the first concept open and will it be rolled out more widely?

The first store is due to open in Albano at the Stockholm university area in Stockholm after the summer. This regenerated area is ten minutes from the city centre, is part of the Stockholm University campus and is popular with students and scientists.

At this stage, the concept is not being considered for wider roll-out, although it could launch in other populous areas in the future. Learnings should be adaptable to other Reitan Convenience markets in northern Europe too.

Balancing sustainability and convenience

We talked to Björn Drawfarc, Managing Director of design agency Reactor AB, which is partnering with Reitan Convenience on the new launch.

He described some of the challenges around balancing sustainability and convenience. For the concept to be successful, it must be ‘easy, quick and appealing’, as the shopping experience in Reitan Convenience’s kiosk-style stores is very rapid, just 87 seconds on average.

Challenging existing suppliers and looking for new ones

Reitan Convenience will also be carefully considering what products will be sold in PBX, prioritising specific sustainability criteria.

The Company will be challenging of its existing suppliers, as well as searching for new ones. A dedicated PBX website outlines how Reitan Convenience is looking for ‘more innovative suppliers and partners who share our ambition to offer products and services that are sustainable at all levels'. Those interested are invited to contact key people within the business.

Currently, Reitan Convenience is exploring different in-store solutions, which include refillable stations, for instance.

CEO: ‘This is one of our biggest investments ever’

Commenting on the launch, Mariette Kristenson, CEO of Reitan Convenience in Sweden said, ‘This is one of our biggest investments ever and it is something that must be done if we are to be able to run a long-term profitable business. It is with great humility that we began this journey with the ambitious goal of creating the world's most sustainable convenience. With PBX, we will create a business model with a positive imprint: both green and socially and financially’.

Elin Enfors Kautsky, Founder and CEO of Prosperous Planet added, ‘Reitan Convenience will not have all the answers today, but by basing its efforts on research and data and by continuously exploring and evaluating various products, services and initiatives, they can move forward and create what will be the convenience of the future’.

New partnership with +impact accelerator

In related news, Reitan Convenience has started collaborating with +impact accelerator on agrifood alongside RISE, Danske Bank and WeWork. The goal is ‘to identify new partnerships between established companies and start-ups in areas such as agritech, consumer apps/services, next gen food and drink to name a few'.

Maria Isaakson, Head of Business Development at Reitan Convenience Sweden said, ‘We believe that we do best together with others who share our view of innovation and want to find new solutions to meet the challenges that exist both socially and in terms of health, environment and climate, and to see opportunities that have not yet been requested’.

IGD insight: Historically, sustainability and convenience have had a relatively loose connection, but environmental issues continue to rise up the agenda. Nordic discounters have already made advances in this area, with innovation from Lidl, Netto and Kiwi.

At IGD, we expect that revisiting sustainability will be a key trend shaping convenience retailing in 2021. IGD Retail Analysis subscribers can learn more about this, other key trends and global case studies in ‘Global trends in convenience retail 2021’ here.

2. Pressbyrån Go opens second unstaffed concept

Source: Reactor AB
Address: Mall of Scandinavia, Stjärntorget 13 C, 169 79 Solna, Sweden

Following the successful trial of its first unstaffed concept at REITAN Handel’s head office last year, Pressbyrån has opened its first completely independent Pressbyrån Go store at the Westfield Mall of Scandinavia.

Although footfall to such locations is lower amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Reitan Convenience has innovated to ensure a safe shopping experience, adapting the technology so that only one customer can be in-store at any one time.

Customers can shop in the 26 sq. m., kiosk-style, store by checking in and using the Pressbyrån Go app. When customers remove an item from the shelf, integrated cameras and wave sensors add products to the shopping basket. If customers change their mind, they can return the items to the shelf and it will be removed from their shopping basket.

Mariette Kristenson, CEO of Reitan Convenience said, ‘We are very excited to open our very first independent Pressbyrån Go, although of course there are other conditions than we originally planned for. Despite this, we are happy to be able to have such a flexible and well-developed technology that we with security can open the gates now’.

Maria Isaksson, Head of Business Development added that the concept was suitable for a variety of different locations, including those areas where customer flow may otherwise be too limited to establish a traditional store.

IGD insight: Sweden leads the way in the Nordics for unstaffed stores, with leading retailers and pure play operators trialling and rolling out their own new store concepts.

Prior to the pandemic, the Mall of Scandinavia was one the one of the busiest shopping malls in the region. Although footfall is currently lower, this gives Reitan Convenience the opportunity to test and learn at a popular location, ahead of local guidelines easing in the future.

Reitan Convenience’s footprint across the Nordics and Baltics means that any further rollout would be game changing for the future of convenience in the region too.

Only earlier this month, Amazon launched its first unstaffed store concepts outside of the US in London. Read more about IGD’s first impressions here.

IGD Retail Analysis subscribers can also gain further inspiration and the future implications of unstaffed stores in our exclusive insight presentation, ‘Unstaffed stores: 40 examples of how the concept is evolving’.

3. Pressbyrån kiosk concept pilots new thinking with implications for wider region

Source: Reactor AB, Script Media
Address: Stockholm, Odenplan Subway station (floor -1)

In addition to testing unstaffed Pressbyrån Go stores, Reitan Convenience is also upgrading its existing Pressbyrån kiosk stores in Sweden to a new concept in partnership with design agency, Reactor AB.

Commenting on the partnership, Björn Drawfarc, Managing Director of design agency Reactor AB said, ‘For Reitan Convenience, we have created a new convenience concept for their kiosk format. The strategic ambition is to securely anchor Pressbyrån as the leading convenience actor in Sweden. The overarching goal of the development work is to strengthen the destination in order to drive traffic to the shops and to present and formulate offerings that increase the average purchase across all categories. And last, but not least, to create flexible solutions and conceptual components that can be implemented and operated in a cost-effective manner at multiple locations as well as being able to be adapted to Reitan Convenience concept in other markets and countries (R-kioski in Finland and Narvesen in Norway)’.

Key enhancements include:

  • A new communications system to help shoppers easily find products and highlight key promotions. This is crucial, with the average time spent in a Pressbyrån kiosk just 87 seconds
  • Special attention to key food-to-go subcategories including coffee, snacks and hot dogs. The category is key to future growth ambitions
  • A more flexible store layout, with self-checkouts at several high-flow areas of the store. This makes it easier for those just looking to buy a coffee to do so easily and check out quickly
  • Warm, tonal colours that still relate to the Pressbyrån brand

Ultimately this concept will act as a hub for Reitan Convenience’s kiosk format innovation, adaptable for rollout to R-kioski in Finland and Narvesen in Norway.

IGD insight: Despite being Reitan Convenience’s biggest market for kiosk sales in value terms, its business in Sweden has seen limited growth in recent years. However, the new, targeted enhancements look impressive and highly relevant. As we hopefully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we wait with interest to see how the new concept will be received by shoppers and whether there will be any subsequent rollout from beyond this single store.

IGD’s ‘Global trends in convenience retail 2021’ report highlights that ‘re-inventing in-store’, will be a key trend shaping development in the channel. Although historically, tobacco, fuel, confectionery and newsprint have been key footfall drivers, retailers like Reitan Convenience are using food-to-go to drive growth ambitions too.

4. 7-Eleven gets updated to ‘reflect modern city life’

Source: Reactor AB, Script Media
Address: Sveavägen 71-73, Stockholm

Reitan Convenience also has the license to operate 7-Eleven in the Nordics. 7-Eleven in Copenhagen was previously shortlisted for IGD Small Store of The Year 2019, with a new store design and food-to-go innovation in an urban location.

Reitan Convenience is also upgrading its concept for 7-Eleven in Sweden, again partnering with Reactor AB to do so.

Björn Drawfarc, Managing Director of Reactor AB said, ‘In this project we have adopted an integrated, overarching perspective involving everything from product line development, new display solutions, management of the presentation of goods, updated manners of communication, in-store customer flows and self-check-out. All to accommodate customer behaviour and expectations of friction-free payment’.

He continued, ‘In step with the boundaries between work and leisure time being erased, our shopping patterns are also being changed, which a modern convenience concept necessarily must address. 7-Eleven is thus neither a cafe nor a restaurant. But nor is it a kiosk. 7-Eleven is a hybrid between a kiosk, small neighbourhood store and a food court. A hybrid that reflects modern city life’.

As with Pressbyrån, key enhancements include multiple self-checkout locations and a new colour scheme, this time using rust-brown and warm grey shades. There is also a variety of different seating arrangements for those looking to eat in-store or spend more time there.

IGD insight: Our new research on ‘how you can grow in the convenience channel – part one’, identifies several key strategies for growth. The advancement for 7-Eleven demonstrates several of these themes in practice, including format development, reinventing in-store and omnichannel and digital integration.

We understand that the 7-Eleven food-to-go range in Sweden is being reviewed as a key priority too. We wait with interest to see this innovation, having been impressed with how 7-Eleven Denmark has partnered with local foodservice brands like Palæo, Cofoco and Grød before.

Elsewhere in the world, 7-Eleven has also opened its third Evolution Store in Dallas and the sixth in the US this week. This time, the store is connected to Laredo Taco Company and features a drive-through concept.

Want to know more about what trends we expect to shape investment and development in food-to-go in 2021? Explore our ‘Food-to-go trends 2021’ presentation.

What next?

Although food-to-go has been a key growth area in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen consumption shift back to eating and working from home, with smaller, urban formats like these being increasingly challenged.

However, our insight presentation on ‘the food-to-go store of the future’, demonstrates how 10 companies are reimagining foodservice in a post-COVID-19 environment.

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