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The bakery reinvented at Delhaize
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The bakery reinvented at Delhaize

Retail is still in transformation and the evolution of the physical store towards a model where the customer experience is at the centre continues. The latest example comes from Delhaize in Kraainem where the group is testing a new concept for its bakery corner. Of course, I went to take a look at it where Ellen HumbeeckSenior Category Manager Bakery and Morgane SteyaertStore Concept Manager, took the time to explain the project in detail. 


A warmer layout

The aim was to redesign the bakery corner to create a more pleasant space for customers. During my visit, I noticed the following elements:

  • The furniture and displays were arranged to delimit the bakery area.
  • The bread wall is a key element. Its design is such that it highlights the different breads in the range, i.e. the organic range, the Rustik range, etc. 
  • A display with the week's specials is strategically placed
  • The “look and feel” has been taken care of with a wallpaper design with cereals, and also a false ceiling covering the area


Baking is now more authentic

But the new concept is not limited to the introduction of more modern furniture and pretty colours. Delhaize also emphasises the elements that differentiate the group from its competitors. 

  • For pastries, the group is highlighting its exclusive Tarte à Moi and Gaelens ranges via a dedicated cabinet.
  • Customers also have the opportunity to buy real “pistolets”. And that in Belgium is a big deal. (We love those little buns, especially if they are authentic). 
  • Lastly, and this is quite a striking element, let's talk about baking. In this new concept, the process starts with raw dough and no longer with pre-baked dough. After it rises in the workshop, it is baked in a stone oven, which is very different from the classic convection oven. The result is a more authentic bread feel that you don't get with pre-baked dough. The shop's staff have been trained to adapt to this new way of working (e.g. to understand how it works, to cut the dough properly before baking, etc.).


My 20/CENT 

What do I think of the new concept?

First of all, I have a feeling of relief. It is clear that with a second year of pandemic where minds are tired, starting to revolutionize concepts or launching innovations is not necessarily appropriate. However, when I compare with other countries, I was beginning to find Belgian retail a bit moribund and inactive. In the UK and even in France I saw announcements about checkout-free shops, and in other countries I could read articles about the roll-out of services or concepts to improve the customer experience. But in our country, it was rather quiet. So, I am pleasantly surprised to see that there is still movement. Even if it's only for one category and not for a total shop concept, I finally see a retailer thinking about customer experience. For the record, I have been told that Delhaize has been working on this new bakery concept for about a year.

Then, concerning the concept itself, I must admit that it is visually quite successful. The layouts highlight the products and an interested consumer will find information about the different ranges left and right. Clearly, the history and origin of the products are subtly put forward. 

Furthermore, what I like about the project is the revaluation of the shop's teams. The concept not only highlights the category but also enhances the skills of the existing staff. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is possible to subtly bring out a shop-in-shop feel. Here the project revolves around the bakery world, but doing the same kind of thinking for other categories is undoubtedly feasible. Tomorrow, we may see the butcher's shop, the wine department or the dairy department get a makeover. Depending on the results of these rearrangements, the supermarket will maybe transform into a series of shop-in-shops? But for this, only time will tell.