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Northern Lights – Ten Nordic Stores To Visit In 2021

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, store format innovation continued to move forward during 2020. In this article, Harriet Cohen, senior retail analyst at IGD, who specialises in grocery retailing in Northern Europe, highlights ten 10 Nordic stores to visit in 2021, travel restrictions permitting.

From unstaffed convenience stores and outperforming hypermarkets to foodservice innovation and the sustainable discount store of the future; there’s something for everyone to be inspired by in the Nordic region.

1. REITAN Handel, Sweden - Pressbyrån Go
Address: Strandbergsgatan 55 112 51 Stockholm

Sweden is at the heart of format innovation in the region when it comes to unstaffed stores. Here, leading retailers and pure play operators are trialling and expanding their own concepts, with the pandemic accelerating the potential of these stores.


REITAN Handel is one of the latest leading retailers to launch its own unstaffed store concept, Pressbyrån Go, which was developed in partnership with brand and design agency, Reactor Sweden.

Why you should visit: As the biggest convenience store operator in the Nordics and Baltics with over 2,300 stores, if REITAN Handel’s store concept is rolled out, it will be game-changing for the future of convenience retailing in Northern Europe. A second store has opened at the Mall of Scandinavia, the region’s second busiest shopping mall.

2. ICA, Sweden - ICA Maxi Stormarknad
Address: Follingboväg 70, 621 44 Visby


Hypermarkets were the Swedish market leader’s fastest growing physical store channel in 2020. Store sales excluding VAT grew by 10.5% (9.3% like-for-like) in 2020.

While other European countries have seen hypermarket channel share become increasingly challenged, driven by the growth of online, discount and convenience, ICA’s hypermarkets have accounted for around 30% of its grocery sales over the last five years.

Despite this success, ICA has partnered with retail innovation design agency Blink and ROL Fredbergs to ensure its hypermarkets are relevant for a new generation of customers. The strategy is ‘step change sustainability, food theatre, omnichannel integration and smooth shopping – no matter what customer journey or mission you’re on; click and collect, convenience or the big shopping trip’.

ICA has also launched a new restaurant concept, ICAnders, where the ‘menu draws the best from Sweden, mixed with new influences to creates modern classics’.


Why you should visit: This store combines the opportunity to see ICA’s latest thinking in its fastest growing physical channel and sample the new ICAnders restaurant concept, which is its first launch either in or adjacent to a hypermarket.

3. Coop Sverige, Sweden – Coop
Address: Hälsingegatan 57-59, 11366, Stockholm

Coop Sverige opened this new concept flagship store in October 2020. Highlights include:

  • An in-store restaurant kitchen run by celebrated chef Jonas Corbell. The restaurant kitchen focuses on seasonal ingredients, while the kitchen team are also accountable ‘that the store’s salad bar is of the highest class and that there are delicious accessories around the store that add a golden edge to everyday dishes’
  • A street-level bistro, which offers a variety of dishes including pizza. The in-store sommelier has selected complementing drinks including natural wine and locally produced beer
  • A variety of store-prepared meal solutions that can be enjoyed on-site or taken away
  • An emphasis on local and vegan food
  • Scan & Pay, which is expected to account for 90% to 95% of sales.

The reduction of space for checkouts has been reallocated to fresh categories, which accounts for around 70% of floor space

Why you should visit: This supermarket brings to life many of the trends we expect to see more of in 2021 including meal solutions, local sourcing, lifestyle needs and digitalisation.

4. Lidl, Sweden
Address: Skarphällsgatan 5, 62141, Visby

In June 2020, Lidl Sweden partnered with LINK Arkitektur to open ‘Sweden’s first zero-carbon building’. From planning, to building materials and equipment, everything has been considered to help the store be carbon neutral during its lifetime.

The 1,300 square metre store is completely made of wood, including panels, walls, beams and the roof. There are also 780 square metres of solar cells on the roof, supplying renewable electricity, while the site grows seeds, grass and herbs too.

Why you should visit: According to the retailer, the store ‘is the world's first commercial building to be climate-neutral throughout its life, from the planning table and material production to a future dismantling’. It is an outstanding sustainable store of the future. [Picture source: LINK Arkitektur]

5. Salling Group, Denmark – Netto
Address: Rosenkrantsvej, Bygholm Bakker 3, Horsens

In neighbouring Denmark, discounter-driven sustainable format innovation is also on the agenda. Market leader Netto has been converting its existing Danish stores to the 3.0 ‘discount store of the future’ concept - 175 stores have been refurbished.

In December 2020, the discounter advanced further, with the debut of its new concept sustainable store, which has been in development for two years. Designed in partnership with C.F. Møller Architects and Innovater A/S, the new concept store has a 40% lower energy consumption than standard Netto stores, as well as 65% lower CO2 emissions.

Why you should visit: The construction is on par with a standard Netto store and is seen as ‘the new way of building a sustainable supermarket’. A further two stores are under construction in Denmark, while Netto will develop more stores like this internationally too. [Picture source: Salling Group]

6. Coop Danmark, Denmark - Coop 365
Various locations include: Kingosgade Frb C, Kingosgade 11 1818 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen

In this competitive market, Coop Danmark has found its market position increasingly challenged, with strong competition from Netto, REMA 1000 and Lidl. However, Coop Danmark begins this new decade with both a new CEO and members of its senior leadership team.

In 2020, the retailer launched its first low-cost supermarket of the future, with around 15 stores now in operation. These stores have an EDLP focus, more organic products and more space for private label. Shoppers also receive a 10% discount on fresh produce when paying via the Coop app. A further 20 stores are expected to open in the next two months following successful trials.

Why you should visit: Consumer confidence has suffered across the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely to be heightened in 2021 as the pandemic’s economic impact is felt and many households feel financially challenged. This concept illustrates how retailers are experimenting with new formats to redefine the price-value equation further. [Picture source: Dhblad]

7. REITAN Handel, Denmark – Caffeine
Address: Copenhagen Airport, Terminal 3, 2770 Kastrup, Denmark

Following its acquisition of Baltic coffee shop chain Caffeine in 2018, REITAN Handel has opened its first Caffeine site in Denmark at Copenhagen Airport. While air travel has significantly reduced during the pandemic, the concept fits in well with the already impressive airport food-to-go offer.

Caffeine serves freshly made organic coffee and frappes, as well as sandwiches, wraps, pizza and baked goods. These are freshly made several times a day and there’s an emphasis on sustainable packaging.

Why you should visit: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was one of the busiest airports in the Nordics. Although it may take some time before travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, Caffeine, which already operates around 60 successful locations will be well positioned to capitalise on travelling consumers. [Picture source: Caffeine]

8. Kesko, Finland – fresKo
Address: Shopping Center Sello, Leppävaarankatu 3-9, 02600 Espoo, Finland

Moving on to Finland and continuing the foodservice theme, Kesko has piloted a new café concept. Having ended its partnership with Starbucks. fresKo, is uniquely decorated by ex-boxer Eva Wahlstrom and offers meal solutions and coffee for consumption in-store or takeaway.

Product highlights include freshly prepared lunch salads and bowls from the ‘home kitchen’, as well as ramen-style soups. Green Bakery products are also popular, as are organic products. Meanwhile unstaffed checkouts are also available for added convenience.

Why you should visit: Kesko joins a variety of other Nordic retailers that are piloting and expanding their own foodservice concepts. fresKo may be rolled out to other locations in Finland, as well as Kesko’s large format K-Citymarket stores in the future. [Picture source: Ari Viljakainen, LinkedIn]

9. NorgesGruppen, Norway – Veggie de Luca
Address: Thorvald Meyers gate 34, 0555 Oslo, Norway

Foodservice innovation is also driving development in Norway, where NorgesGruppen’s Deli de Luca chain launched its first vegetarian and vegan-inspired concept, Veggie de Luca, in November 2020. Its focus is on freshly prepared, world-inspired food, including falafel waffles.

Deli de Luca, which was established in 2003, now operates over 100 sites in Norwegian cities and Esso forecourts across the country. The first Veggie de Luca has opened on the same site as the very first Deli de Luca.

Why you should visit: NorgesGruppen’s MENY supermarket chain reported that sales of vegetarian and vegan food increased by 46% in 2019, while in 2020 it expects to achieve sales of NOK 1 billion in this category (€94 million). The trend is especially strong with young people and in cities, like where Veggie de Luca is located. These statistics demonstrate the potential of the category and in the long term, Deli de Luca will explore opening more sites. [Picture source: NorgesGruppen]

10. Circle K, Norway
Address: Langrønningen, 3960 Stathelle, Norway

Norwegian forecourt operators including Circle K and Deli de Luca in partnership with Esso have challenged the status quo in forecourt design in recent years. IGD has previously highlighted Circle K in an exclusive insight presentation on ‘Global best practice in forecourts’.

In summer 2020, Circle K opened its largest site in Norway. It is also the country’s largest charging hub for electric vehicles, with 40 charging stations, including ultra-fast options.

The site also offers the Circle K’s Simply Great Coffee, an appealing selection of bakery products, gourmet sandwiches and signature frozen soft drinks. Meanwhile, the seated café area and playground for children encourages increased dwell time.

Why you should visit: Norway pilots Circle K’s latest thinking for over 12,000 stores on three different continents. In Norway, electric cars accounted for 61.5% of new car registrations in September 2020 (including hybrids this is 89%). As other countries accelerate the shift towards electric vehicles with subsidies and bans, these markets should be inspired by how Circle K has developed the forecourt of the future. [Picture source: Circle K]

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© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Harriet Cohen. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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