One of my favourite mornings in recent memory was visiting Jumbo Foodmarkt in Breda, a location that combined two of my passions in life by virtue of it being a wonderful food store located within a football stadium.

It’s possibly not an overstatement to suggest that Foodmarkt has been something of a gamechanger in European grocery retail – I struggle to think of a concept that has been namechecked more frequently by retailers that I speak to in terms of offering up a gold standard in terms of store design, food-for-now, food-for-later and general look and feel.

These stores – there are now six in The Netherlands – are the flagships that sit above the rump of the Jumbo store estate, comprising Jumbo supermarkets and Jumbo City convenience stores. Both of these chains are excellent in their own right, combining very smart design and merchandising alongside an EDLP approach that has enabled it to offer credible competition to market leader Albert Heijn.

Jumbo’s evolution from a family-owned regional business into a national operator with market share in excess of 20% has been nothing short of remarkable. Boosted by some big chunks of M&A as well as store openings and same-store growth, Jumbo is now a EUR7.8 billion business with a rapidly-growing ecommerce presence, the La Place restaurant operation and a market entry planned for Belgium later this year.

The retailer’s recently released results for 2018 were most encouraging. Total sales growth of nearly 10% was underpinned by market-leading LFL growth of 3.8% within the food retail business, which ended the year with 618 stores.

My most recent encounter with Foodmarkt was with the lovely outlet in North Amsterdam, a free ferry ride and leisurely stroll away from Central Station. The second store in the chain to open after Breda, the Amsterdam store trades from over 30,000 sq. ft. and is located in a rather lovely historic building.

The interior has too many splendid architectural features to rhapsodise about, but highlights must sure include the exposed brickwork, natural light, original ironwork and the charming deployment of plenty of timber.

The produce section is a treat – a great range of product enhanced by the strong use of graphics and well-executed POS which stresses localness and seasonality where appropriate. Some familiar Foodmarkt hallmarks, such as the wonderful simplicity (and brilliance) of merchandising mozzarella alongside tomatoes and the tomato pick ‘n mix are all present and correct.

Moving beyond produce takes you into a breath-taking run of food-for-now and food-for-later counters, including sandwiches & salad, sushi, Asian, pizza and a zeitgeist-riding vegan proposition. These are all great and combine strength in depth with incredible visual appear.

The regular service counters like deli, bakery, patisserie, meat, fish and cheese are mouth-wateringly beautiful and really lend a great deal of authenticity to the store’s proposition. One gets the sense that this is a lovingly curated assembly of specialists rather than a run-of-the-mill supermarket, a quality that would keep me coming back if I was fortunate enough to live nearby.

The rest of the store is pretty good too. There are nice touches in other departments, with the pick ‘n mix theme extending to beers and soft drinks, while there are also frequent nods to Red Bull. Max Verstappen, the Red Bull Racing driver, is also a marketing ambassador for Jumbo, meaning that the store includes Red Bull video fridges, a towering shrine to the driver and a rather awesome F1 helmet fridge. Very impressive, and I don’t even like motor racing.

This is one of those concepts that totally and utterly bears many repeat visits and yet another one that makes me think I’m living in the wrong country. Superb store.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director

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