A Sobeys in Orangeville, Ont. is the first grocery store in North America to implement a Flexstore concept.
Flexstore is a system by European design and shopfitting firm Interstore | Schweitzer that leans on mobile fixtures that can easily be rearranged, allowing grocers to expand, reduce, or otherwise adjust various departments as needed.
The units, which are often on wheels, link building services such as water and electricity to counters and fixtures. This allows retailers to change counters, switch from service to self-service, and rearrange entire departments quickly and easily.
The Sobeys store also features an innovative customer flow that leads shoppers in a circle through the fresh food departments along the walls of the store while offering gondolas with dry goods in the centre of the store.
Naturally, a key advantage of this approach is that it vastly reduces construction and renovation costs. It also allows grocers to easily experiment with short-term changes.
The Flexstore concept is already in place with some of Interstore | Schweitzer’s European clients, but the new Sobeys concept store is the first grocery store in North America to implement it.
Interstore | Schweitzer CEO Bernhard Schweitzer told Canadian Grocer that there is strong interest and demand from grocery retailers, particularly given the shifts to in-store shopping that are being seen in the current climate.
“For example, serviced meat departments are becoming smaller and areas like HMR and convenience products are becoming bigger,” Schweitzer said. “Rather than have to completely change and renovate the store every eight to 10 years, retailers have the possibility of changing or reconfiguring the store every year or two years without big investments.”
The implementation of Flexstore was delayed by COVID-19, but Schweitzer said it normally takes around 15 weeks to implement the system, and the Sobeys store was able to remain open during that process.
“The big advantage is now whenever Sobeys wants to make changes, whether it’s to enlarge, reduce, or change the composition, they can do that easily,” said Schweitzer. “For example, if they want to include more service elements such as a salad bar or hot bar in the HMR area, ‘The Kitchen,’ they can do so easily because most of the fixtures are on wheels. Nothing is fixed to the floor, which makes it very quick and easy to adapt and that’s what Flexstore is all about.”