Kaufland is adding food courts to its Romanian stores. The Schwarz Group-owned superstore and hypermarket operator has said that the change is part of a process of reinventing the shopping experience as customers have said that they expect more than a typical hypermarket offering. While different restaurants and bistros will be established instore, “modern containers” will also be put up outside the store to house further concessions.
In its first such outlet in Bucharest, the Food Court which offers cafes and bakeries, restaurants and salad bars will shortly be expanded to include a Subway outlet. Two non-food retailers remain instore, which include a pharmacy and a newsagent.
Kaufland Romania has emerged as the sedulous vanguard in terms of innovations, it seems. Just a few days ago, we wrote about Kaufland erecting tents in tourist towns; and turning its parking lots and rooftops into urban gardening spaces. While these activities can be classified as marketing and CSR, this recent activity is different. Kaufland has extended its new, more attractive store concept which is being rolled out across Europe, to include concessionaires in the checkout zone. This approach is consistent, because often enough these independent small traders who trail the shoppers’ way in and out of the store don’t live up to what one would call a pleasant, inspiring shopping atmosphere.
If we interpret the retailer’s statement right, these mini-traders and service providers are now being escorted outside, taking up “modern containers” (!) for their petty businesses. If at all – because Kaufland often does not even have instore concessions as it loves to keep control over its houses.
The space inside will then be used for the Food Court concept – a consistent theme with different operators, offering shoppers the opportunity to dwell and spend more time if not in the actual store itself, but before they enter and after they have paid. Plus other outside visitors may be attracted, too. Kaufland – which is by far the leader in the hypermarket segment in the country, generating forecasted sales of EUR2.7bn this year, according to LZ Retailytics – is obviously lacking what its French counterparts Carrefour and Auchan are masters in: offering their customers an environment where they feel comfortable and where they can sojourn. After all, a hypermarket is too large for many to just walk in and walk out again – the ‘efficient German style’ finds its limits in the sheer size of the store.
Nonetheless, there may be no direct way to assess how beneficial the new concept will be for the sales development. After all, the dwelling space is beyond the checkouts and not within the selling area; and we do not know if the restaurants are partly operated by Kaufland itself. Obviously, the retailer has created new space to let, thanks to the containers outside (perhaps the car parks had turned out to be oversized anyway, which also explains the urban gardening initiatives).
It is the overall attractiveness that the retailer hopes to improve, creating a new impulse for sales growth. And customers demand a “complete shopping experience”, according to Kaufland, combining food buying and eating. When even the discounters, such as its sister Lidl, can no longer do without a coffee machine, it is imperative for a hypermarket operator to offer a pleasant place to dwell, even if it is Kaufland.