The new Morrisons urban supermarket in London's Canning Town is far from the standard Morrisons format. Here's our guide to where the store stands out.
A format adapted to changing shopper patterns
A pattern of smaller, more frequent food shopping has developed in many markets, and we're seeing formats like this one increasingly flexing around these newer behaviours. With a store size of c. 2,000 sq m (17,000 sq ft, excluding the barista area and lobby area on entry to the store), this is a store designed to meet food-for-now food-for-later missions first and foremost. While it caters for fuller shops, the nature of the location and the store itself means many will be shopping with baskets rather than trolleys. If you're not familiar with Morrisons, it's a UK retailer that has a strong focus on in-store preparation, and has increasingly been making more of its in-store production in its recent marketing. This store is no exception, but there is a shift in approach versus most other Morrisons stores.
A significant food-to-go upgrade with the debut of Market Kitchen
Located first in flow on entry to the store, the food-to-go section of the store is the clear standout, and much work has gone into developing this from Morrisons. Several key principles come through:
Building on broader recent development, the barista bar is a feature, with an attractive seating area. Reflecting a shift in approach, Moretti beer is on tap, while a range of single serve wines and beers are offered in a chiller as part of the barista offer.
Making the most of 'Made by Morrisons', with Morrisons using and developing its own in-house capability for the menu rather than partnering with others.
Menu breadth, with options ranging from fried chicken, to burgers, pizzas, salads, wraps, noodles and smoothies.
Digitally enabled menus to draw in the shopper and highlight the menu. There is strong use of visuals on these digital screens, and it gives a modern look to the menus, enabling the store to feel at home in its modern, urban surroundings. They also present the menus in a clear and consistent way.
Well-thought through local sourcing
Morrisons is increasingly building its reputation for locally sourced ranges, but perhaps up until now this has been best done in its native Yorkshire. However, in this store, the retailer has done an excellent job in showcasing a range of local brands. Beer is a standout here, with for example beers sourced from the East London Brewing Company in Leyton and the Crate Brewery in Hackney, adding depth of range and interest well beyond that typically found in UK supermarkets.
A responsible retailing focus
This comes through strongly across the store. Most notably on entry to the store, where a display offers a range of reusable packaging, cups, bags and bottles, but this feeds through with integrity across the store, with a water refill point and doors on fridges, still remarkably rare in UK supermarkets.
What's next? How will the format evolve further?
It's an impressive format overall, and sits alongside M&S stores in Clapham and Hempstead Valley as one of the stand out store openings of the year in the UK. It builds well on exisiting strengths of the Morrisons business, without feeling compelled to replicate features - such as a butchers' counter - which are less relevant for this site.
We'd expect to see further evolution of the 'bulk' offer in future formats. It's in-store here, which is a positive step, but with a relatively modest number of items to choose from, it's perhaps not being used to its full potential.
A further opportunity for further development lies in the evolution of the evening offer. On our visits, the Market Kitchen creates a real buzz during the day, but this subsides into the evening. And, across the broader store, there's less focus on evening meal deals and solutions, with instead a focus on scratch ingredients. Already within the food-to-go offer, many of the items are well-suited to evening meal solutions. But perhaps building the reputation locally as an evening destination, and potentially just shifting the menu and aspects of the environment on a step further, will enable Morrisons to do even better in this space.
Overall summary: an impressive development from Morrisons that upgrades its wider potential for food-to-go growth.
Watchouts: we've very few overall and see this as a major step forward for Morrisons. Clearly, as with any new concept, managing the operational side will be key, and how effectively Morrisons can create and cater for evening food-for-now traffic is an outstanding question. But overall we applaud this wider concept development very strongly, and see it as being well aligned with wider trends in the market right now. We also believe that Morrisons will take a lot from this development to feed into how it operates across its wider estate.
Want to be inspired by the latest retail and food-to-go concepts in London? You can book on our next London safari or contact us if you want us to create an insight led safari especially for you and your business.
Want to stay up to speed with our latest insights and events? Sign up here.