November/December 2014

Page 17

Market Bistro by Price Chopper, Latham, N.Y.


Yummy Market, Maple, Ontario




Beyond fresh prepared food counters, grocers that want to differentiate their store offering may need to look no further than the new and exciting trend to food halls. Grocery Business spoke with Juan Romero, president and CEO of international store design firm api(+), and Tom Henken, vice president and director of design, about their take on this cutting-edge trend. WHAT’S IMPACTING THE GROWTH OF FRESH PREPARED FOOD?

SPEAKING OF MARGINS, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS POSSIBLE? If you are able to control your labour and input costs and set a reasonable price point, you can potentially get contribution margins of +20 per cent. WHAT ARE THE CAVEATS? A big caveat for grocers is to be prepared to invest time, money and people because doing a less than stellar job will work against a fresh and healthy brand image. If your prepared food counter looks like a wasteland, you’re not going to be able to sustain a fresh positioning.

Henken: My view is that Millennials are more meal-oriented, rather than people who stock-up their pantries. Because they’re not cooking as much as previous generations, they are looking for meal solutions, which is driving the growth of fresh prepared in grocery and the trend to food halls. HOW ARE GROCERY CUSTOMERS TAKING TO THESE NEW FRESH PREPARED OFFERINGS? Romero: Around 12 years ago, at an FMI Convention, the grocery retailers were concerned that restaurants were taking all of their business. And this year, at the National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago, the restaurant people were concerned that the grocery stores were taking all of their business. Grocery stores have definitely gotten better at their fresh prepared offering while creating a more interesting food experience.



Think like a restaurateur, not a grocer.

Romero: It’s a relatively new food-service concept. If you’re in the restaurant business, a food hall is a food court run by independent food operators, but within a grocery store it can be owned and operated by the retailer.

•H ire staff with restaurant experience because, in this area of the store, you are in the restaurant business. • Closely manage your shrink.

•H ave a diversified offering for the consumer who may want to eat on-the-go, stay in-store or take a hot meal home.

Henken: When I think of a food hall, I think of multiple stations featuring a variety of cuisines. Price Chopper (a U.S. grocery chain) has been able to create that within a grocery store setting. Continued on page 18 November | December 2014


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