Another beautiful store this week, with a quick look at Les 5 Fermes, which originally opened as a farmers’ market-style store with a focus on local produce and organics. Observant shoppers will notice that the store is now part of the Auchan empire. You have to be fairly eagle-eyed to spot the Auchan connection, with a smattering of Auchan private label lines in chilled and ambient and a small sign near the checkouts revealing that the store is operated within the retailer’s Simply Market supermarket division.

The fact that it is run by Auchan has apparently riled some local shoppers who see the store as some sort of faux independent business, but in fairness I’m not really sure that this is an issue: the store’s range and merchandising is top drawer, the pricing is eminently reasonable and there is no secret made of the Auchan affiliation. A more valid criticism might be that the ‘localness’ of the proposition is somewhat undermined by the inclusion of vast swathes of imported produce, but this is a necessity in order to offer a decent range of fruit in particular.

The store is a wonderful environment. Constructed as part of the revamp of the former covered market La Halle Secretan, the general architecture is superb, with very charming ironwork and generous amounts of natural daylight flooding into the high room. The daylight is enhanced by effective use of spotlights and some striking pendant lights that really bring out the best of some wonderfully displayed produce. This section is further enhanced through the deployment of handwritten blackboards that detail country-of-origin and pricing, a stark contrast to the ESL that is used throughout the rest of the store.

Other nice visual touches include plenty of eye-catching graphics around the perimeter of the store, the use of various ornamental rustic features to highlight certain categories and the inclusion of human figures and giant fibreglass cows on the balcony that rings the ceiling of the store.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the fruit & veg section, with citric pyramids and a veg mister creating a huge amount of visual appeal. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no meat, cheese or fish counter in the store, with all of these categories being sold instead as self-serve from the chiller cabinets. The wine department at the back of the store is exceptional, a superb assortment housed in some handsome fixtures that sit in a very atmospheric and distinctive section of the store.

Ambient ranges are done well, with plenty of space devoted to free from and kosher foods. There is not much in the way of household or health & beauty lines, meaning that a full grocery trip is virtually impossible, but the focus of this store is very much on fresh foods and it achieves a great deal of authority in this area.

Anyone with even a faint interest in architecture, food retail or design should ensure that Les 5 Fermes is somewhere near the top of their to-do list when visiting Paris. A visually stunning store.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insight Director

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