SLR joined an ACS-organised study tour to Milan last month to learn from our Italian retailing cousins and see first-hand how the convenience and grocery retailing industries are coping with change on the continent.
There are very few things that a local retailer can do that are more productive than spending time in other stores. Nothing beats seeing how others are approaching the challenges of running a store in 2018 and – while it can be difficult to justify time out of the business – it is invariably worth the effort. Particularly if the stores you plan to visit are in the stunning Italian city of Milan.
SLR was lucky enough to be invited to join a brief study tour to the historic city organised by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) last month and it proved to be a remarkably insightful trip. To be more precise, the trip was organised by ACS Commercial Director Paul Chamberlain as a recce for an official ACS study tour to Milan later this year. Nonetheless, the trip offered the opportunity to visit over a dozen stores in a short space of time and get a real flavour for how food retailing is progressing in the city.
Several well-known retailing figures including Coventry Nisa retailer and ACS Board member Paul Cheema were also on the trip. As was former Nisa CEO and Co-op COO Neil Turton alongside a number of suppliers.
Even from just a couple of days in Milan, it’s fair to say that the standard of retailing is surprisingly high. Yes, it’s a completely different market to the UK with a lot more sunshine and a lot more focus on fresh fruit and veg and chilled produce in particular, but there were nonetheless plenty of lessons to be taken from the trip and shared with you. It was a particularly enlightening experience to visit the various stores with Paul Cheema, a top-notch retailer with an infectious passion and drive for turning great ideas he finds into reality in his own store.
By the end of the first day’s tour Paul had been so taken with all the beguiling and inviting fresh fruit and veg stands outside so many of the city’s stores that he had his brother replicate the idea outside his own store in Coventry – that same day. From a nice idea at midday, Paul and his brother had turned it into a reality by 5pm with a five-metre display in place outside the store, fully stocked and up for sale!
An emporium of excellence…
This mid-range supermarket is a world away from a standard UK multiple…
Express Eat & Shop
This small c-store under an office block stocks an exceptional range of premium lines…
The best of the rest
Milan also threw a few curveballs in our direction…