Having banged on at great length about the virtues of new Carrefour concepts in Spain and Poland, it is now the turn of Carrefour Italia. Sadly, this time I was about two years off the pace, so can’t really say it’s a new concept, but my long overdue visit to Carrefour Market Vivi di Gusto was a wonderfully enjoyable experience.

The Vivi di Gusto concept opened in early 2016 and it really is a lovely, lovely place. Spread over 34,000 sq. ft. and two floors, the store houses a superb fresh selection and foodservice offer (including an Asian food bar, a seafood bar and a cocktail bar) on the ground floor, with booze, ambient and health & beauty in the basement. 20,000 SKUs come together for a great urban supermarket proposition.

The produce department has the tremendous ‘organised chaos’ feel that I’ve encountered in newer Carrefour concepts around Europe (and I mean that as a great compliment), with fruit and vegetables spilling out over the display, providing a superlative sensory experience and a feel of bounty. Compare and contrast to the regimented rows of cellophane encountered elsewhere. No contest.

I also really liked the chart that pointed out the seasonality of produce, helping shoppers ascertain when is the best time to buy local products. Another highlight in this section was the living wall of herbs for sale.

The service counters in the store – some along the back wall, others in central islands – were top drawer. The meat counter had some of those excellent ageing cabinets; the fish counter was very smart, if a little depleted (as it should be on a Sunday); while the cheese counter, all 500 SKUs of it, was a thing of beauty, as was the deli counter that sat alongside it.

There were a couple of great premium private label displays, one devoted to the Reflets de France range from the mothership, the other given over to the domestic Terre d’Italia assortment.

Both had a cracking array of products across ambient and chilled, the Italian range in particular offering a compelling selection of delicacies. Yet another occasion where I was cursing my decision to travel with hand baggage only.

I also really like the proposition in ‘local’, a handsome display being used to present the finest of products from Lombardia. I’m still slightly baffled by the inclusion of two bottles of Tennent’s Super, but, hey, when that’s the only quibble I can have about a store, then you know it’s a good one.

The BWS section downstairs was awesome. The wine selection was extensive, boasting a mammoth range of champagne, and tastings were available. The lower floor was also home to an insanely good range (400 SKUs of teas alone) of teas and coffees, some of which are roasted onsite.

From start to finish, this store is a sumptuous celebration of food and drink, once again leaving me rather bereft at the thought of returning home to relatively sterile stores that are more concerned with waste budgets than experience.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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