Since opening in 2017, the Rijk Zwaan Retail Center in Berlin has facilitated inspiration sessions and research programmes with chain partners from all over the world. “We always leave with a head full of new ideas,” says Lenta’s Flip Gitmans.
The recipe for the Retail Center’s success is based on several key ingredients: offer tailor made programmes, organise workshops, study various store layouts and recreate them in a realistic model of a supermarket environment. The Rijk Zwaan Retail Center has three different shelf layouts: a Dutch-style chilled shelving unit for convenience products, a pendant from the USA and German discounter-style shelving for ambient products. This mock-up of supermarket displays from around the world provides an environment where partners from the international fresh food chain – including upstream traders and growers as well as retailers – can experiment and innovate with presentation concepts.
One of those partners is Flip Gitmans, Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Director at Lenta, a retail chain that operates 232 hypermarkets in 84 cities across Russia. “For us, each visit to the Retail Center is very useful. From the product point of view, we get a good overview of what is available. We are able to feel, taste, experience and compare – not only products with each other, but also as a certain benchmark for what is grown in Russia,” he says. “It is great to have all this in one place. It is also very useful to have a range of packaging options at hand so we can easily pick our favourites. Thanks to the presence of so much knowledge under one roof, we always leave with new ideas for innovation and improvement of our assortment and stores.”
With the wide range of resources it offers (see box), the Retail Center creates not only new opportunities for individual partners, but also growth for the entire fruit and vegetable category. Michael Gerhard, Account Manager at Rijk Zwaan, comments: “We offer research facilities, but also share our expert knowledge of key categories such as lettuce, melon, tomato, cucumber and pepper. That includes in-depth scans into those assortments. Together with input from our retail clients and our knowledge of key category tactics, we can help to create an ideal product offering, leading to further category growth.”