Luxury grocers: it’s all about the brand



By now you all know that one of my passions is grocery stores – both big and small. Daylesford, the organic farm shop, is one of my favourite food shops, and such a delight to be in. Also known for its cafés (it was named Britain’s most sustainable restaurant earlier this week), Daylesford’s shops are a fantastic example of the high-end grocers that have benefited from the new retail climate. As the average weekly shop has diversified to include a variety of retailers, specialists like Daylesford have an advantage.

Daylesford’s growth is the result of innovating its brand offering whilst at the same time sticking to what it does well. Daylesford has been farming organically since long before it was cool, so it was well placed to take advantage of the consumer trend towards healthier and more sustainable food over the last decade. The brand’s strength comes from its positioning as an idyllic countryside farm shop, which it replicates even in its city stores, by focusing on presentation and visual merchandising. On entering the shop you’re immediately struck by the strong smells that greet you – a testament to how fresh the food really is. The fruit and veg are attractive because they’re so colourful and everything is perfectly shaped. I often find myself browsing for much longer than I intended simply because the shop is such a lovely place to be.

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Inside Daylesford in Marylebone, London

Fortnum & Mason, perhaps the most famous luxury grocer, has experienced much recent success and should be a lesson to all luxury brands, both grocery and non-food. Walk into Fortnum & Mason and it’s impossible not to be at least slightly overcome by the sheer sumptuousness of it all. The food on offer is certainly luxurious, and the whole experience is enhanced by the various eating and drinking options on offer.

Recent growth has come, in part, from physical expansion, which is quite a feat given that the Piccadilly store is such a huge tourist attraction, and is synonymous with the best of London’s retail traditions. Last week Fortnum opened a Champagne bar in Heathrow’s Terminal Five, a fitting example of how the brand has managed to expand, not least because the bar is positioned next to the store they opened last year. The store that Fortnum opened in St Pancras in 2013 – and that I wrote about last year – has also been a huge success, and demonstrates the company’s impressive ability to make the brand scalable without diluting what makes it special.

It is ecommerce, though, where Fortnum has been particularly successful. Fortnum has managed very successfully to maintain its strong brand online. Its website is simple and easy to use, but retains a luxury feel and continues to focus on the customer experience. For example, it offers the unique option of next-day delivery even on a Sunday. As such, Fortnum’s online offering has become a major engine for growth over the last two years, especially since it started delivering internationally. Last year the business recorded record profits, after online sales grew by 25%.

What other brands have succeeded in maintaining their core offering while continuing to expand? Let me know your thoughts at moira@thembsgroup.co.uk, and have a lovely weekend!