Fresh The Good Food Market differentiates in convenience in Dublin

Since establishing the company 10 years ago, Fresh The Good Food Market has made a conscious effort to differentiate its brand and business model as far from traditional convenience retailing as possible. It operates as an upscale, urban grocery store which also offers a mix of freshly prepared food to go, food for later, in-store casual dining; ultimately carving a new niche for itself in the sector. The retailer run 5 stores in Dublin and its Camden Street store is the company’s most ‘urban’ store.

Fresh The Good Food Market (Fresh) claims that its Camden Street store has redefined the very concept of the convenience store.

The store is already one of the most benchmarked stores in Dublin by Irish and international retailers, with many retail research groups; such as global food and grocery experts IGD, featuring Fresh The Good Food Market as ‘the store group to visit’ in Dublin.

In terms of the store format, the layout blends food-service with retail but offers none of the branded concessions typically seen in a convenience store in Ireland.

The store provides a changing food offer throughout the day, offering all-day dining and in-store eating, gourmet take home meals and world cuisine themed evenings.

Its customer base is a combination of busy professionals, city centre workers, college kids, trendy socialites, and lifestyle bloggers. The offering for food on the go in Dublin 2 must be the most competitive in the country, the retailer says. And, in order to attract passing footfall and draw in customers, Fresh decluttered the store exterior and lit it up ‘theatre style’ with hanging pendants. The result is a corner site store that entices customers to cross its threshold.

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The Fresh Kitchen at Camden Street has revitalised the hot food category, creating a genuine destination for hot food that incorporates all day parts, from breakfast, lunch and dinner. In-store, the offer occupies 10m of space, spread across five stations and operating as self-service or assisted and with an ever-changing menu. The Fresh Kitchen broke new ground in its response to the increasing trend for out of home dining and how a retail store can effectively capture this market.

The store’s on-site kitchen and in-store chefs are the centre-piece of the store. Completely transparent views into the kitchen area mean customers can watch the team prepare and cook everything from scratch. It also enables the store to be creative in terms of the offering. Almost operating like a restaurant, the team creates new dishes of the day such as chilli, stews and freshly made pizza, pushing the boundaries of a typical ‘convenience store’.

The concept of all-day dining is perfect for the busy and high footfall community, which Fresh serves. Breakfast, in particular, is an area that Fresh has increased its focus on. Its in-store chefs make homemade gourmet sausage rolls, egg muffins and frittatas each morning.

Hitting the health credentials too, the Fresh team make its own granola pots and overnight oats which customers choose as a ‘grab and go’ option in the morning, paired with a freshly squeezed orange juice or a freshly brewed coffee.

But it’s not just about hot food. In 2017 Fresh The Good Food Market debuted Ireland’s biggest salad bar that carries 64 freshly prepared salads, all made by its in-store chefs.

The offer comprises healthy pastas, exotic mixed salads, raw veg and superfoods; plus a ‘hot protein’ section, where customers can choose from ‘on trend’ turkey burgers, cooked fish, pulled pork, and Angus steak burgers.

Nestled in the corner of the store and integrated into the store queuing system is a fresh food offer with abundant displays of fresh produce, and complementary products displayed underneath. Five-a-day fruit pre-packs are displayed in the impulse section to put healthy eating at easy reach of customers.

Innovation is to the fore in Camden Street with a raft of new products and services on offer. Long chilled counter runs are filled with international style hand-crafted sandwiches, wraps, baguettes and bagels, for example; while an adjacent gourmet counter serves up quiches, pies, lasagnes and more, accompanied by rustic salads.

Take home options are always available and Fresh is known for offering a great range, from pre-pack meat and fish to take home meals, pizzas, quiches, soups all made by its in-store chefs. Customers in a rush can also use the grab and go departments for sandwiches, salads, cold pressed juices, yoghurts and fruit pots.

The retailer also supports Irish food and beverage producers and has introduced many Irish food and beverage brands to the market, with several of these brands in the gourmet to go section.

The store isn’t averse to concessions but they are not run of the mill either. Camden Street features Irish brand ‘Peking’, offering Asian cuisine; plus Dublin’s coolest donut brand, Offbeat, offering 21 carefully crafted unique patisserie style donuts

Fresh The Good Food Market is leading in new technologies too. As well as being Ireland’s first retailer who signed with Deliveroo, it was the first supermarket chain who partnered with the charity organisation FoodCloud, and the first supermarket who signed with Pointy.

When meal delivery company Deliveroo had just entered the Irish market, Fresh signed up as it could see the benefits for its customers. This enabled customers to order a wide range of hot and cold meal options from home or the office.

Pointy, meanwhile, is a worldwide app that allows people to search for products online and find nearby locations stocking that exact product. In 2015/2016, Fresh engaged with the founders of Pointy who used the company as a trial and pilot site. It was very successful. Fresh quickly found its business showing up on page one of Google when people searched for certain products in Dublin. The application suited Fresh’s wide and hard to find product range, and the retailer continues to use Pointy to this day.

Fresh’s payment systems in store are also first class, providing contactless payments through debit card as well as facilitating payments by mobile and smart devices. Given its customer base, the sales percentage by contactless is one of the highest in Ireland for convenience food retailing. Fresh has its own loyalty programme too with instant rewards and savings offered at point of sale on the departments that mean the most to the customer. These include percentage points off fresh food, dual savings on wine and price discounts on everyday necessities. The card is currently physical but Fresh has recently partnered with loyalty saver ‘STOCARD’ to allow customers to use their smart device instead of the physical card.

On the people development front, Fresh states diversity and inclusion is firmly embedded in its corporate culture. Its employees are diverse, not only in cultural backgrounds but also in life experiences, perspectives and ideas.

A staff handbook is given to each member of the team as they join and outlines in detail the business’ objectives, core values, company culture as well as basic everyday workday queries and references. Training is a firm part of the culture. Fresh food teams regularly take HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) courses and examinations and the majority of the Fresh The Good Food Market senior management team started in lower roles and have developed into managerial positions.

The management team motivates the store team by departmental performance reviews and sales incentives plus general monthly awards for different team members based on customer service, team player, and category presentation.

Yearly, the company holds an awards night, when it celebrates several members of the team for different aspects of their performance. The company also recognises long serving members, who are subsequently inducted into The Fresh Good Food Market ‘retail hall of fame!’

The training drives customer service. In 2016, for instance, Fresh began an internal project around its team training which was called ‘The Customer Service Module’. Its senior team worked with external training agencies to develop a best in class training programme for customer facing staff. Once completed, this was rolled out with weekly group sessions in its support office.

In late 2017, Fresh engaged with an agency to conduct a customer survey. The results showed its stores on average scored 4 out of 5 on customer service.

In 2018 Fresh The Good Food Market plans to update the ‘Customer Service Module’ to a new 2.0 version with additional notes and feedback from version 1.

The innovation in fresh foods, technologies, people and customer service initiatives are driving a strong commercial performance.

Expanding the food for now choices has resulted in a 10-15% rise in customer numbers and up to 20% at the busier times in the city. The average spend on lunch has increased by 25-30% and now sits at €6.50 per customer.

The move away from traditional ambient grocery into food for now and food for later has also positively impacted the store’s gross profit margins. The sales contribution of foodservice has in turn increased, benefiting the margin overall and the bottom line.

The introduction of The Fresh Caffe has seen hot beverage volumes rise by 28% with the new offer, paired with new in-store dining, making Fresh a more attractive proposition for customers looking for a good cup of coffee.

Fresh reports sales from the food and beverage for now departments are growing month on month, which will result in the store continuing to see overall sales growth.

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