I do like a good department store food hall. There really are some corkers around: Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, El Corte Ingles and John Lewis immediately spring to mind as all offering a rather pleasing food retail experience in the department store environment.
One other that belongs in the pantheon of greatness is La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the renowned food destination in the world’s first department store Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, itself part of the LVMH empire.
The department store opened in 1852 and the food hall was installed in the ground floor in 1923. It now offers around 30,000 SKUs from an area of 38,000 sq. ft. and has been enhanced by the addition of a frighteningly good (if harrowingly expensive) wine and spirits department in the basement. The range down there is awesome and the service levels, as you would hope, are second-to-none. These people really know their wine.
Pricing is obviously at the punchier end of the spectrum across the store, but I guess no-one is going to be shopping in here with either a full trolley shop in mind or value-led objectives. The range encompasses everything you’d expect to find in a typical supermarket, but it is skewed towards delicacies, upmarket brands and exclusive items from around the world.
Ambient lines are displayed beautifully, with many of them on tables as opposed to regular shelves and benefit from electronic shelf labels, which are deployed across the whole store. One unlikely standout category is bottled water, displayed on under-lit shelves which really helps to bring something that might be considered mundane to life in a spectacular way.
Service counters (meat, fish, cheese) are utterly splendid and there are also a few seating areas and food-for-now counters to enable instore consumption. A lot of products are made or prepared instore, really adding to the engagement and theatre already on offer.
Produce is a delight, with great fixtures and lighting, and I really liked the table devoted to herbs and asparagus. The world foods section is impressive, with the Great Britain selection including our great culinary highlights: shortbread, fig rolls, salad cream, Bovril and custard. Stirring stuff for any patriot.
The retailer states that it hopes to be an “unmissable destination for all food lovers.” It has certainly succeeded in this objective and visiting this store should be on everyone’s ‘must visit’ list when in Paris. Tres bien indeed.
Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director