A decorative carriage full of tasty-looking oranges ushers shoppers into the new Naivas Mountain View Mall. Further inside, and along the aisles, large wooden crates present an array of plan- based groceries- delivering the promise of the food market concept experiment Naivas embarked on last year.
Nuts and cereals are packaged in glass containers as the retailer embarks on an Environment-friendly path that minimises and discourages single use plastic.
The meat and food area, like most of the fresh food region of the supermarket, is tastefully designed featuring wooden designs and lighting that blends various accents and defines varying food arrangements. An eatery with an ambiance that could pass for a modern-day restaurant sits at the heart of the fresh food area too.
The fresh food area at the outlet takes up a third of the total 33,000 square foot area and features tens of items. Naivas’ investment in the food market concept is a confirmation of the retailer’s commitment to developing and sustaining stable suppliers of food produce as one way of improving its customer experience offering.
“Modern urban shoppers want to feel they are in a fairly natural environment so we have gone for store designs that give them a sense of being in touch with nature, calming them as they get inside and inviting them to slow down and enjoy the highly-tailored product assortment,” said Naivas, Chief Operations Officer Willy Kimani.
He added that the firm will continue experimenting with different concepts in future as the retail sector becomes more competitive. Last year, Naivas said it had conducted studies which found that more than 60 percent of shoppers visit shopping areas for food items necessitating change in tack. “The large food markets are located in places where the customers prefer to shop in large quantities and include lots of fresh produce in their shopping needs. Naivas has established that this is a major need for customers and has partnered with suppliers who deliver consistent quality,” Mr Kimani said.
The retailer’s existing outlets have since been re-modelled and new ones created to feature an attractive merchandise layout, decorative lighting, well-curated signage, and well-planned product arrangement, factors that were previously not at the centre of supermarket operations. The stores also have cafes within the grocery space in a bid to meet all their customers' needs.
Naivas supermarket, which recently sold a minority stake to French private equity fund Amethis Finance, is now standing out for the attractive interior architecture and welcoming ambiance at its outlets.
“The approach we have taken is to infuse the store with an attractive interior, featuring well-lit large areas, a wooden feel and modern shelving that keeps the produce fresh. Our experience is that this means we incur nearly 40 percent more in capital expenditure to achieve this. Besides, setting up a new branch is not easy,” said Kimani in an earlier interview with MarketPlace.
Consulting firm McKinsey, in the 2019 Ever Changing Store report says as competition heats up in the retail sector, pressure is mounting for traditional stores to create a distinctively compelling customer experience. This also requires frequent store format overhauls to offer sensory advantages over e-commerce.
With Naivas planning to close the year with a total of 70 stores nationwide, Mr Kimani said they will continue to set up outlets in strategic places, among them county headquarters, to deliver convenience to shoppers. The retailer creates about 130 new and direct job opportunities with the opening of a new store and works with about 200 suppliers in every store.