THE 5 FARMS SUPERMARKET IN PARIS

The 5 Farms Supermarket in Paris.

In the still popular North-East 19th district of Paris, just a few steps away from hilly Buttes Chaumont park, a new supermarket called “The 5 farms” has opened a few months ago in the beautiful “Halle Secrétan”. The “Halle Secrétan” is a former covered food market that was built at the end of the 19th century by famous French architect Baltard, which style is highly recognizable. For your knowledge, Baltard was also the architect of the former Halles de Paris, that have been -sadly- replaced by giant Forum des Halles Shopping Mall in the mid 1970’s.

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The Halle Secrétan have benefited from a complete renovation that started in 2013. The outcome is worth a visit. A beautiful restoration indeed.

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Retailwise though, the situation is source of concern. For a strange reason and contrary to the initial project, it appears that the “Halle” is not only hosting a combination of diverse food retailers. Apart from the supermarket and 2 restaurants, the property owner, alongside with Paris city hall, have signed leases with a gym club and a women apparel store. The kind of mainstream brands we can find in almost every shopping malls throughout the country. At first glance, a strategic error. But, let’s dig a bit deeper.

What about this fresh supermarket which brand suggests a serious dedication to local and healthy food?

  • Right from the entrance, you are struck by the volume of the premises. Both the spectacular high ceiling and the quality of raw materials (bricks and glass) give the feeling and the expectation of a high-end food experience.

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  • Unfortunately, you can rapidly figure out that you are not in an unconventional healthy and local food specialist. In fact, the “5 farms” is a store operated by “Simply Market“, a nationwide French supermarket chain, subsidiary of Auchan. Therefore,  it will come as no surprise that most of the product range looks like one of a “normal” supermarket.
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  • Anyway, the “5 farms” is doing well in a few sections like fruits & vegetables and wine. Let’s also mention that the store is incredibly clean and tidy. All in all, the supermarket provides Parisian shoppers with a better experience than the vast majority of tiny and often basic supermarkets in the city.

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  • The pain point lies in the fact that the supermarket is not delivering what the decor and the brand actually suggest. It is fine to celebrate healthy and local food products on posters but we would have preferred to find them also on the shelves.

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  • Actually there is neither organic food sections nor locally grown produce. No meat, fish or cheese stalls either. Except from fruits and vegetables, the produce comes in pre-wrapped. Utterly disappointing.

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  • I am far from being the only one to be disappointed. The local community has publicly claimed, via internet mostly, that the supermarket was not what the city hall managers have promised when the works started. Of course, as a previous marketing director in different retail property companies, I know that retail schemes are almost systematically criticized by local associations. Change is a source of concerns and real estate investors often suffer from a bad reputation. It seems to me that both the investors and the city hall have missed the opportunity to provide the local community – and the Parisians in general- with a true destination food retail area, that could have included a “Whole Food Market” style supermarket and a vibrant and cosmopolitan food court. You know, this kind of tenant mix that attract people in every major Western cities. The example of the Marché des Enfants Rouges located in the 3rd district of Paris should have been a blueprint for the project. A missed opportunity.

I recently found that the last LECLERC supermarket concept opened in the same area of Paris was much more consistant and interesting. If you missed this post, you can read the full article Here.

If you are interested in all of my “embedded experiences”, click HERE.