Coles looks beyond price with first in-store food hall

Supermarket giant Coles is leveraging the power of independent foodie destinations to provide its very first in-store food hall experience.
The retailer’s Tooronga Village store, in Melbourne’s south-east, has welcomed CBD-based café Earl Canteen and Australia’s leading sushi retailer, Sushi Sushi to the fold, alongside its largest fresh convenience range to date.
Sushi Sushi will offer up fresh sushi and hot meals, while Earl Canteen will serve healthy meal solutions from its open-plan kitchen, including made -to-order breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and hot ‘Wholebowls’ exclusive to Coles.
The supermarket refurbishment is the first of more than 100 Coles stores to be converted to the Fresh Convenience format before the year ends, and is part of Coles’ strategy to offer a convenience and health-focused shopping destination, tailored to the local community.
“Our new food hall concept is all about making life easier for our customers by solving the problem of what to eat – for everyone, any time of the day,” Coles head of convenience Louis Eggar said.
“At Coles, we want to win together with our suppliers, so we’re excited to work with the best in the business for premium quality, quick and easy meal solutions that appeal to our urban and time-poor customers in Hawthorn East and surrounds.”
Those time-poor customers can avail of over 450 lines of convenient food options at the Tooronga Village store, including Coles’ expanded range of Fresh Kitchen salads, ready-to-go breakfasts, pre-cut fruit and veg, and ready meals.
The store also includes a dedicated Cheese Shop with local and international cheeses, a DIY bread slicer, a cook-at-home pizza station and a fresh pasta bar.
Dr Jason Pallant, lecturer of marketing at Swinburne Business School, told Inside FMCG that domestic retailers are looking beyond price to draw consumers to their stores as new players enter the market.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of competition around price. But with Aldi, Costco and Kaufland, it will be very difficult for our domestic retailers to compete just on price,” Pallant said.
“The idea of competing on experience and a better offer is more compelling, and while it’s difficult to do, these partnerships offer another way.”
He believes the decision for Coles to partner with independents is smart as it allows the retailer to focus on what it does best.
“The idea of a proper restaurant or cafe experience in supermarket makes sense. A lot of supermarkets have sushi offerings or a cafe but partnering with the people that do that as their main function is a win-win for both sides. Coles can offer the immediate grab-and-go options, while the cafes and restaurants benefit from the foot traffic.”
Pallant said collaborating with local brands to offer something unique and different is really smart and a trend that works well in fashion, where retailers feature local independent designers rather than big brands.
“Each brand can focus on their core proposition and do that really well, rather than spread themselves across too many different operating models. Shoppers are able to get their groceries and meals, while their staff can focus on stocking the shelves and the fundamentals of the business.”
The new shopping destination also includes a new First Choice Liquor Market next door, optimised for online retail with a dedicated Click&Collect bay, an open-plan layout and new store concepts including a tasting bar for sampling and exclusive in-store events.

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