My opinion on the new Auchan Supermarket store concept.
A few months after Auchan has strategically decided to turn its former « Simply Market » supermarket format network into a rebranded «Auchan Supermarché» one, the leading French retailing group is now rolling out the new concept throughout France. And fine-tuned it locally when needed.
Let’s explore today one of the latest store opened in a densely populated area in the southern part of Paris.
Located on the ground floor of a massive 1970’s residential building, the two-storey 2,000 square meter revamped store obviously aims to unlock the potential of the local catchment area.
While fresh food items are displayed on the ground floor, dry food, health & beauty and beverages are available in the basement.
The whole fresh food area is undoubtedly the main attraction of the brand new concept.
That starts with the general look and feel. As soon as they enter the store, visitors can embrace a stunning panoramic overview on the low-level, wide and massive produce section. And, since Auchan has judiciously decided to get rid of high cabinets and aerial signage, nothing prevents customers to get how the whole ground floor is actually laid out.
The store also houses a japanese food kiosk where suhsis and makis are made on the spot. The kind of offer that is likely to attract and retain high contribution customers.
Some of the fresh food counters are worth a visit as well. The butchery sells 100% French sourcing meats while the delicatessen and the cheese counters are offering a wide selection of gourmet items. On top of that, the brand new sleek and neat cabinets are making the place very pleasant.
On the flip side, the bakery section is surprisingly quite dull. I would have appreciated more ambition here on behalf of Auchan. Additionnally, a decent bakery section would also have had a positive impact on the snacking area installed nearby the entrance.
As far as the « snacking » area is concerned, I must admit that Auchan has not really set the bar high. A few microwave ovens, some high chairs and tables and that’s it. Functional but really not the decor and atmosphere where you would like to enjoy a coffee.
In Paris and some other major French cities, Franprix – the Casino Group convenience format – has designed much nicer and warmer environments (see my article about the Franprix concept)
In the other fresh sections on the ground floor, the broad aisles make it possible for customers to navigate easily. The floor, covered with vinyl, captures unpleasant noises from the carts.
If the produce area is a must-see, the same doesn’t apply to the sections available in the basement. The low ceiling combined with unpleasant lighting and cluttered aisles are making the shopper journey quite painful.
A few merchandising initiatives can be spotted there though. Starting with the liquor and wine section where two wooden cabinets are highlighting ready to drink vintage wines and a selection of exclusive liquors. Let’s bet that these displays would have generated more impulse buying if installed in a warmer retail environment.
In the beauty section, Auchan has installed some specific displays but the magic doesn’t not happen. Kiko and the other beauty category killers have nothing to worry about.
As a conclusion, Auchan Supermarché new store concept is obviously focusing on its fresh market. A vital asset to beat the competition in urban environments. Ironically, whereas the word « Market » has disappeared from the brand, it has never been so relevant.