“Within the thriving convenience sector, leading French retailer Carrefour is experimenting with different formats. The food-to-go brand, BonApp! is to be expanded, with some new locations planned in transit locations such as airports and stations”

For further information, see our report Supermarkets - Europe - November 2016 and the forthcoming update, Supermarkets - Europe - November 2017.

What we’ve seen

  • Carrefour has announced that it is expanding its Bon App! Food-to-go stores, after trials began two years ago.

  • Following openings in Arras, Montpellier and St Etienne, the latest Bon App! store has just opened in Paris, in the rue du Temple, trading seven days a week.

  • The store has a new design, and Carrefour is planning ten stores by the year-end.

A “snacking” format

Carrefour describes BonApp! As a “snacking format” – the stores are exclusively focused on food-to-go, with around 800 lines of snacks and food products, ready meals and food-to-go solutions, some of which are from Carrefour’s private 'Bon App' range.

These include breakfast products, complete and balanced meals, gourmet snacks, little treats, fruity breaks or just something to keep you going in between meals. The products on sale are divided into different sections and are regularly updated – sometimes based on particular themes, such as organic, world cuisine or USA.

The stores stock a range of hot snacks, salads and healthy snacks (with a range of organic products), as well as sandwiches and cold beverages. Customers will also find fresh sliced fruit and vegetables, ice creams, fruit, croissants and pastry products, as well as a hot drinks dispenser and a freshly-squeezed orange juice machine. The new outlets will feature a modernised overall design, cosy, ergonomically-designed furniture, wooden units and self-service counters. The lighting creates a contemporary atmosphere and the signage is designed to make life simple for customers.

Convenience stores a growth sector

In most European countries, the convenience store sector has been one of the beneficiaries of changes in how people shop for food. 

Continued growth in the urban population, increased frequency of grocery shopping and growth in eating out are all trends that benefit the little and often shopping behaviours that the c-store sector is well suited to serve.

Growth in online grocery shopping has also been to the benefit of the convenience sector with online shoppers often topping up between online shops.

Food-to-go a growth driver for c-stores

One way in which the convenience sector has grown in many countries is by expanding the needs that c-stores can meet, and food-to-go is an important part of this. We explored this in our Convenience Stores - UK - April 2017 report. The research for that report found that 35% of UK c-store users regularly buy their lunch, 20% buy their breakfast and 24% buy other pre-prepared food-to-go from c-stores. This rises to 48% and 31% for lunch and breakfast respectively amongst the core 16-34-year-old c-store users.

Figure 1: UK: Shopping missions regularly completed in convenience stores, February 2017
Base: 948 internet users aged 16+ who regularly shop in convenience stores

“Which of the following do you regularly buy while visiting convenience stores?”

[graphic: image 1]
Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

This highlights a significant opportunity for convenience stores and some retailers are introducing food-to-go counters in their stores, or developing specialised store formats to cater to this market.

Other retailers beside Carrefour that have responded in this way include M&S and Tesco in the UK, although several of these have been short-lived. In 2016 M&S developed a new format in London, called M&S Food to Go. The stores focus on sandwiches, salads and coffee as opposed to the larger selection stocked in a typical Simply Food outlet. Tesco has experimented with a variety of food-to-go formats, some of them with partner businesses, including Burrito Kitchen, Fred's Food Construction and In FARM We Trust, but has since pulled back from most of these.

In Germany, Rewe has its Rewe to Go format, with over 10 stores in central locations, including train stations and busy urban neighbourhoods, and customers can choose from a wide range of products to enjoy straight away or take home for later. These markets are open nearly 24 hours a day, and “to go” is always an option.

In Austria, supermarket operator, MPreis has its Baguette format, with a similar offer, with many trading in busy railway stations.

We can tie this in with Mintel trend Transumers, which explores how retailers and brands can take advantage of the growing number of consumers that have needs to be met in transit locations such as airports, metro stations and railway stations.

What it means

  • Consumer demand for food and shopping behaviours are changing in many countries. People are shopping more on an as needs basis and looking for more prepared foods, premium foods and meal solutions. There is growing demand for immediate meal solutions and a growing younger population that want the convenience that such ranges offer.

  • Retailers need to look for new and different ways to appeal to these various customer needs. 

  • In France, most of the grocers are seeing sales decline at their hypermarkets, so it is particularly important to get the offer right at their other store formats.

  • Several retailers have experimented with food-to-go formats, but some have been more successful than others. The BonApp! Format looks to be one that has the potential to go further.

  • Such stores need to find a way to differentiate themselves in busy city centres, which are often saturated and highly competitive in terms of their food-to-go offer. 

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