One of the joys of this job is the ability of retailers to present me with some lovely surprises. Stumbling across an unexpectedly awesome store is a great pleasure and my most recent such experience occurred during my first ever visit to Zagreb last week.

I’d been in a load of Konzum stores in Dubrovnik many years ago and my memory is of well-kept, fairly small neighbourhood stores with a decent line in private label and a proposition well suited to top-up shopping.

As well as these smaller grocery stores, Konzum also trades through larger Konzum Maxi outlets and the Super Konzum format: compact hypermarkets with a more generous non-food assortment (occasionally including the F+F fashion range licensed from Tesco).

I’d not managed to make it into a Super Konzum before, so discovering the loveliness of Super Konzum Radnička was a fine treat. Formerly a Mercator store (Konzum’s parent company Agrokor acquired the Slovenian giant in 2014), this outlet was refurbished and reopened in late 2015.

With 30,000 SKUs, the store’s focus is very much on food and drink, although it also houses a credible range of household goods and toys – more of which later. The store’s perimeter is devoted to fresh foods and service counters, with some cracking propositions in terms of food-for-now and food-for-later.

Once you’ve headed through fresh produce you hit a run of service counters, including the juice bar located in a central island, sushi, the grill, pizza, pasta, coffee, bakery and patisserie. There is a rather fetching seating area, with a backdrop of a living wall, for instore consumption and the overall offer in terms of counters is excellent.

The back wall is occupied by chilled deli and dairy, with the back-right corner of the store seeing a resumption of service counters, housing meat, deli and fish. The deli island – which boasts over 120 different cheeses from around the world – looked fabulous, complete with two lovely glass cabinets that were used to display cheeses and charcuterie, while the meat counter boasted the ageing cabinets that I am a huge fan of (both in terms of product as well as theatre).

The fish counter, with over 50 SKUs, was similarly impressive, enhanced by two tanks that were the temporary home to some majestic lobsters.

As I visited in late November, Christmas merchandising was in full swing and the store featured some tremendous displays from brands including Milka, Coke, Nivea and Ferrero. The Ferrero display was a massive triumph of engineering that Brunel would have been proud of while the Nivea unit featured a huge snow globe, both very engaging and eye-catching bits of shopper marketing.

The main grocery offer also managed to be interesting, helped in no small part by some strong category work by suppliers. Particularly impressive were categories including energy drinks, tea and coffee (both done well by local market leader Franck), pet food and detergents.

One stand-out feature is undoubtedly the beer section, which comprises over 100 brews from around the world. Entitled the ‘Konzum Pub’ the department is highlighted by copper beer pipes that run above it, a huge tower of beer crates and some lovely fixtures from suppliers such as Heineken, Leffe and Karlovačka Pivovara (the local Heineken subsidiary).

This really is some very fine work indeed. Spirits are also executed well, with suppliers including Pernod Ricard and Jägermeister contributing some handsome displays.

Konzum is to be applauded for its approach to toys and baby. Categories such as nappies, baby care, formula and infant nutrition are all grouped together alongside toys, stationery and party in a separate department that is called the Dream Factory.

Complete with moving wall graphics and a rather splendid Lego-branded area, this proposition exudes credibility and authority: there’s something to learn here for other supermarket operators.

This is a lovely place, a superb example of a retailer and suppliers collaborating to create an exemplary shopping experience. High fives all round.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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