Attendees at last week’s Amsterdam Produce Show got the chance to take a tour of some of the most interesting retailers based in and around the major European city.
The Retail Tour was part of the annual trade show’s second installment, bringing some 30 participants to five recently opened stores that all offer consumers something different to traditional outlets.
First up was Albert Heijn, the leading supermarket in the Netherlands with around a third of the country’s market share. Its beautiful ‘XL’ store based in Purmerend to the north of the city opened its doors one year ago.
With 700 solar panels on the side of the building, it claims to be one of the most sustainable stores in Europe with C02-neutral operations.
Standing out upon entering the produce department of the 3,700 sqm store is a herb garden where customers can simply cut off the amount they want, place them in a bag and receive a price sticker based on the product weight. As well as attracting people to the supermarket, store manager Frank Groen said the concept helps eliminate food waste.
Promotional material in the produce department also highlights the farmers who grew what is being displayed, with stylish low-hanging lamp shades providing warm lighting to the fresh fruits and vegetables.
Next up on the tour was Jumbo Foodmarkt, which covers 2,800 sqm and opened three years ago in a converted factory warehouse in northern Amsterdam. Its exposed brickwork and steel girders give it a distinctly industrial feel.
Our host, cross merchandising manager Robin Otten, said the store was comparable with Whole Foods Market in the US.
He explained that given the limited catchment area of the store, the company had needed to find ways of attracting people from further afield, such as through the installation of a pizza oven and a cafe so that families could come and spend the day.
A tree grows in the middle of Jumbo Foodmarkt’s store in a converted warehouse
A tree growing in the middle of the store provides a unique and more natural feel, while the outlet is also notable for its high level of cross-merchandising. In all around 500 products are cross-merchandised – 10-times more than the average store. There are also pick ‘n’ mix stands for cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
So far three Foodmarkt’s have opened in the country, but there are plans to open 15 more over the next five years.
Landmarkt was the third stop on the retail tour. Its 1,250 sqm store is relatively isolated in terms of location but offers a warm farmers’ market feel inside.
The tour participants were greeted by charismatic store owner Thijs Van Banning outside, as Christmas trees were sprayed with artificial snow to mark the start of the holiday season and create a good place for families to visit.
Having previously worked at Albert Heijn, Banning decided to open his own store with the idea of creating “an experience and a little bit more fun than the usual shopping trip.”
Landmarkt has a more casual feel in store than many traditional supermarkets
Two trucks head out daily from the store to collect products including fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese from farmers within a 40km radius, which are sold under handwritten signs that give the store a more casual feel.
Banning explained he had wanted to create a store that was more focused on sustainability than many traditional retailers, even going so far as to place a green, yellow or red sticker on his own fish products indicating just how sustainable they are.
Tour participants were treated to a delicious brunch at the in-store restaurant, which Banning said was installed in line with his vision to emulate the atmosphere of produce markets in southern European countries like Spain or Italy where people could shop, eat and enjoy the day, as opposed to the more clinical feel of many retailers in the north of the continent.
Up next on the tour was Landwaart Culinair, a gem that originally opened in 1987 in a small retail arcade and underwent a significant shopfloor expansion in September this year.
Elegant and sleek displays give Landwaart Culinair a stylish touch
Its beautiful displays of vibrant-coloured produce in uniform black crates give a sleek feel to the store, which has 900 sqm of display cases filled with drinks, delicacies, bread, salads, vegetables, fruit, tea and a caterer who prepares fresh dishes on a daily basis.
The elegant refurbishment has completely transformed the family-run store into a luxury shopping destination, described by some as a “food lover’s paradise”.
Last but not least on the tour was Bilder & de Clercq, a grocery store that opened its doors in 2014 with an original concept – the entire shop is organised by recipe.
Some 14 appetizing recipes are displayed, with the groceries for each dish measured and packed below along with a suggested bottle of wine to accompany the food when it is cooked at home. All recipes are vegan, with two or three dishes changed on a weekly basis.
Examples of some of the recipes on display last week were mushroom risotto and a meatless burger. The price per person is also displayed above where the ingredients are presented.
All the ingredients for the recipes displayed are available in measured-portions at Bilder & de Clercq