Different supermarkets in the region are exploring new dining concepts that blend shopping and eating. Some are offering snacks and pastry counters, while others are experimenting with full-fledged dining out spaces, some with even gourmet menus. HN reviews the trend in the MENA.
Majid Al Futtaim unveiled the Carrefour Central Kitchen. The new facility prepares and supplies Carrefour stores throughout the UAE with ready-to-eat and easy to cook meals alongside grab and go items, and chopped vegetables. Spanning 7,000 square metres, the Central Kitchen is a state-of-the-art facility located at the Carrefour Regional Distribution Centre in Jebel Ali. It is set to provide new and better food options while creating a taste unique to Carrefour, with a head chef regularly preparing and testing new recipes in a purpose built innovation kitchen. Customers can choose from a selection of 40 meals per day across different cuisines. With all food prepared in one centralized facility following Carrefour’s stringent hygiene standards, shoppers can trust the safety of the food served. Hani Weiss, chief executive officer at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “Quality, convenience, safety, and wellbeing have become our customers’ top priorities when it comes to the food they consume. The Central Kitchen is the latest effort to cater to this need consistently and guarantees that all of Carrefour’s food items, meals, recipes, and inventive flavours have Majid Al Futtaim’s stamp of excellence. This is a testament of our proud record of innovation, customer-centric experiences and high-quality services.” The Central Kitchen will replace all of Carrefour’s current food-to-go meals from external suppliers with high quality food made in-house and served across Carrefour stores. The facility will also prepare easy-to-cook, and ready-to-heat meals, and chopped vegetables that serve the fast-paced lifestyle of UAE’s residents.
In Lebanon, Spinneys was among the first supermarket chains to trial this new hybrid model at their Signature outlets. “Innovation is a necessity, especially for the Lebanese people who always aspire to change, progress and renew every aspect of their human experience. With the addition of the Signature by Spinneys concept, our clients can now enjoy a more high-end experience with a sort of gourmet look and feel. They can walk around different live cooking stations, offering a variety of international cuisines. The aim is to offer a high-end experience through and through,” Ralph Kahi, chief marketing officer at Spinneys, told HN. Speaking about their Signature restaurant at Beirut Souks, Kahi explained that he believes that being in the heart of Beirut is one of their main values. It is a way for them to offer surrounding businesses and employees a special way of having lunch, while also providing an easy and quick option for tourists wanting to shop, dine and visit the city. “The supermarket then transforms into a kind of social hub, gathering people around good food and conversation. Our aim is to stay up-to-date with international trends in order to satisfy our shoppers’ needs for high quality products,” he said. The restaurant’s clientele ranges from executives working in the area, to residents of Downtown, to tourists passing through Beirut, and basically anyone looking for a new shopping experience, or interested in the F&B industry. Signature by Spinneys is an elevated food court experience: It offers customers a wide choice
of cuisines, cooked right in front of them, and served to them by our waiters. The menu served is diversified and offers live stations covering various cuisines from Japanese, Italian, American to Lebanese. Signature by Spinneys also carries a variety of organic produce, top of the line meat and fish, as well as dry-aged meats and gourmet products imported from Europe. The restaurant provides delivery services within the Beirut area. “For now, the Signature by Spinneys located in Downtown is fully integrated within the grocery shopping experience. In the Dbayeh and Ashrafieh branches, Food to Go sections are available, though different in concept or scale,” Kahi explained. Asking him whether it is less expensive to operate a supermarket F&B service rather than opening a standalone restaurant, he said that The Signature by Spinneys concept merges both the dining and the shopping experiences. “That is why the restaurant part of Spinneys can’t, and shouldn’t stand on its own. You can clearly see that union while walking around our Cheese and Delicatessen section, located in-between the Sushi conveyor, and the wood-fired pizza oven.” When it comes to ROI,opening a new branch is always a big investment. “We start out by putting a strategic plan in place, covering essential costs and expenses needed for the location, the equipment, the staff and the products. We also have to take into consideration any and all kinds of unexpected events that we might encounter, whether political, economical, or even natural. Today, the COVID-19 crises could affect the ROI for example. That is why we can only hope for the situation to get better on all fronts, so as to encourage investment’s flow and profit’s increase.” He continued: “The COVID-19 has affected all countries and industries around the world. Unfortunately, with Lebanon going through a political and economical crisis as well, the tourism industry has been hit hard as well. Luckily, being a supermarket first, we were able to remain open, and our shoppers were able to benefit from Food to Go meals prepared daily for them.”
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