Rational organised an International Retail Summit in Dublin in mid-November, which saw the attendance of around 50 opinion leaders.
The event focused on the future of supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations, changes brought about by the pandemic, and how to adapt to changing conditions.
Presentations by renowned speakers, including Scott Annan of Blue Ananta; Gavin Rothwell of Food Futures Insights; Thomas Ennis, CEO of Thomas Ennis Group; Nathan Watts of Interstore Schweitzer; Marijke Streng, Lead Foodservice at Albert Heijn; and Mike Fogarty of Choice provided insights on trends, new ideas, and concepts.
Benjamin Nothaft, one of the initiators of the event at Rational, stated, "There is certainly a lot of momentum coming out of the Retail Summit and the lively conversations showed that the topic of foodservice in retail is more relevant than ever."
The speakers highlighted some of the possible concepts from different perspectives.
Scott Annan collected ideas from all over the world and made it clear that petrol stations, in particular, need to rethink – the more electric vehicles there are, the less need there will be to drive to a motorway service station or petrol station.
Marijke Streng impressively demonstrated how supermarkets adapt to customer requirements.
Creative director of Schweitzer design, Nathan Watts, demonstrated how to retain flexibility by cleverly arranging fixed elements such as water or power lines and how to reconfigure an entire shop without much effort.
The event featured a supermarket safari, created in collaboration with Gavin Rothwell and Benjamin Nothaft, which showed how ideas can be turned into high-turnover retail spaces.
Participating stores included SuperValu Kilmainham, SPAR Merrion Row, Fresh The Good Food Market, Centra Wellington Quay, and Fallon & Byrne Exchequer Street.
All five stores generate a significant part of their sales from convenience products, which are usually produced in-house.
Speaking on the challenges that arise, Robert Munday, EVP marketing and customer solution at Rational, said, "When ready-made meals are in greater demand, production demands also increase. At the same time, there are few skilled staff in retail, so the kitchen equipment must be able to take on many tasks and provide flexible support throughout the day, across a wide product portfolio. That’s exactly what our iCombi and iVario units are designed for."
The hunger for exciting shopping experiences is there – so supermarkets outside Dublin should also start getting busy.