Having excelled myself last week with a store that was a couple of weeks old, I’m now setting a dangerous precedent by reviewing a store that is – at the time of writing – less than 24 hours old. The bleeding edge of retail analysis and no mistake.
I will start with an admission of guilt in that I have massively failed to visit an Eat 17 store in the past, despite reading countless times what a good retailer they are, but I’m afraid that their four other stores in Walthamstow, Hackney, Whitstable and Bishop’s Stortford are not really in my orbit of places that I go to.
I’m occasionally near Bishop’s Stortford, but that’s after being brutalised by Ryanair so I’m not really in the mood for store visits.
Anyway, the opening yesterday of their new store in Hammersmith afforded me the opportunity to enjoy my first experience of this much-lauded retailer and a jolly good place it is too. The store is located in the new Assembly London office complex and is a rather charming combination of supermarket and street food market.
A very handsome exterior lets plenty of natural light flood into the store which is chock-a-block with lots of lovely features, all set off with some fantastic store design.
The front window of the store is awash with very fetching bakery displays showcasing the delectable array of treats made in the store’s bakery, while the central produce display is a great bit of kit that combines chilled and ambient product to great effect.
Other chilled cabinets highlight a cracking range of cheese, including Eat 17-branded items, as well as a very convincing range of convenience foods and prepared meals. The core grocery range is brilliant. It combines big household name brands with less familiar brands from smaller suppliers, meaning that categories like oils, sauces and condiments are dangerously fascinating selections that invite browsing and purchase.
In a number of categories (cheese, herbs and spices, tea and coffee, condiments) the Eat 17 private label range does a great job and also achieves some sterling visual cut-through thanks to its distinctive black and white packaging, while in other categories the SPAR PL rage is deployed. Wherever possible, local suppliers are used and flagged up, creating another appealing point of difference.
Amid the ongoing clamour around plastics and retailers looking at ways to create less waste, Eat 17’s lovely new outlet has some impressive refill units that encourage shoppers to use refillable vessels to purchase products, including a back wall refill station that houses loose seeds, nut, dried fruit, cereals and grains; two end-cap units devoted to oil and vinegar and tea and coffee; and a fantastic booze refill station that provides three wines from Borough wine and beer from local breweries. All this really is great: good for the environment and a cracking bit of instore theatre / differentiation.
The foodservice angle of the store is top-drawer. Alongside the café bar operated by the retailer the street food market area features kiosks offering some mighty fine burgers from Knowing Meat Knowing You, pizza from The Pizza Project and Pakistani kababs and roti rolls from Empress Markets. I can personally vouch for the cheeseburger – delightful.
The overall look and feel of the store is a total joy and the checkout experience was a treat too. It’s nice to welcome a new entrant to the list of must-see stores in London. Fantastic.
Bryan Roberts, Global Insights Director