Doing Things Differently

There is more to putting your head above the parapet than just creating a store that looks different – it has to work, be engaging and build upon what can be seen elsewhere
Posted April 19, 2017

Tesco, the large U.K.-based supermarket, unveiled a new store look in Swansea, U.K., a couple of weeks ago. In case you’re unaware, Swansea is in Wales and is quite a long way away from, well, pretty much anywhere else that “matters.”

Maybe that’s why Tesco decided that it was a good place to test something different in one of its hypermarkets – it can keep things under wraps.

It’s about 80,000 square feet, and the first thing you might notice when walking in is that it’s actually quite easy to find your way around, and it does look pretty good. In part, this is because it has followed the market-style approach in its food departments, with the fish, meat and deli counters all feeling as if they would work as standalone specialty shops.

In doing this, it follows a path that some of the major European grocers have already trodden, but it does look different if you live in the U.K. and don’t get across the Channel too often.

It also illustrates that there is no such thing as an original idea anymore. Whatever you come across from day to day is likely to have been done somewhere else, albeit the parts of a store design may be arranged somewhat differently in other locations.

Retailers move in herds, and it is a rare beast indeed that leads. That said, what really matters is execution, and in this respect, the Tesco Extra store in Swansea comes through with flying colors. There is little that can be faulted about an enormous supermarket that you actually enjoy being in.

When was the last time you wanted to linger when stocking up on food, stuff for your home or even clothing (there’s a private-label fashion shop-in-shop in this Tesco store that would work perfectly well on its own)? If you can’t remember, perhaps a trip across the Pond, and then a long journey by rail to west Wales, might be in order.

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.