easyFoodstore: cupboard food the easy style (infographic)
It has been six months since Stelios Haji-Ioannou launched his latest experiment, easyFoodstore. In an infographic we tell its story so far.
All items 25p
On the 1st of February 2016 the founder of easyjet opened the pilot and only store so far in Park Royal West in London.
As with most of Stelios’ other companies, the emphasis of easyFoodstore is on the low prices. For the first month of business (February 2016) all the items (mainly ‘cupboard’ food) were sold in the store for 25p (0.33 US$, 0.30 EUR). In March and April all items went up to 29p.
In May the prices went back to 25p “only while stocks last” and since July there is a “buy one get one free” offer on rich tea biscuits, plain flour, pickled onions and mayonnaise.
Location, competitors and opening hours
On the infographic we show on a map of Greater London the location of the store (on the North Circular Road, London, NW10 7XP).
The infographic also features high street supermarket stores (ASDA, TESCO, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Lidl, Waitrose) close to easyFoodstore – within 3 miles walking distance (according to Directions from Google Maps).
A comparison of the total opening hours per week of each supermarket shows that easyFoodstore (open now Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am-5.30pm) is the store with the least opening hours (48 per week) among its competitors. On the other end of the spectrum the closest ASDA superstores are open 141 hours per week (almost 3 times longer) and TESCO Extra goes even further (150 hours).
A bit of a history (Timeline) & Queues
Such was the popularity of the store when it first opened that on the third day (Wednesday, 3 February 2016) after its launch, the store had to close as it ran out of stock.
It remained closed the day after (Thursday) for re-stocking and opened again on Friday (5 February) initially (9am) with queues of 50 people which became longer later (at least 126 people according to Dr Food). The week after, the queues were 20-30 people long.
In ‘theory’/according to easyFoodstore spokesmen the target audience of the store is “low-paid, part-time workers, benefits claimants and pensioners.” In practice the queues were increased by journalists, voyeurs and local convenience store owners.
The latter were taking advantage of the very low prices (lower than they would get at their wholesalers) to stock their own stores and most likely were the main reason why on the 15th of February the maximum 10 of each product limit for each customer rule was introduced.
The store also reduced its opening hours from nine to six per opening day (11am-5pm). Opening days were Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), so from initially 45 hours per week the store was open for 30 hours per week (after the 15th of February).
Meanwhile, the store started with a 76-product range priced at 25p. However, when we visited the store on the 18th of February (Thursday) we could only find 21 different products.
On the 1st of March, a month after its launch the range of the products, according to the store, went down to 40. Opening hours were increased to 39 per week (Monday-Friday, 10am to 5.45pm).
Since May the range of the store increased (again according to the store) to 60 products and it is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm (48 hours per week).
In August the plan for the store is to be open Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm.
Visiting the store – Products & Suppliers
From an aesthetic/size/product range point of view easyFoodstore will make your local off-licence look like a superstore. The store is actually so small that the security guards allowed six to seven customers in at one time when we visited in February. (According to The Guardian, in the first week of its operation 15-20 people at a time were allowed). Externally there are some similarities with B&Q (orange colour, sliding doors).
On our first visit (Thursday, 18 February 2016) we arrived at 11.54am and the queue outside the store was nine people long. The woman in front of us, who was with a young child, asked us if anyone could buy from the store or if registration or something similar was needed.
Waiting time in the queue was 11 minutes and during our waiting a passer-by, asked us if a pass (!) was required in order to get into the store.
These two incidents are perhaps indicative of the confusion regarding the new entrepreneurial endeavour by Sir Haji-Ioannou. easyFoodstore for that matter is an ordinary B2C store. There is no need for a pass, registration or anything similar.
One man got into the store and left soon after without buying anything. Though he had come like others with a shopping trolley, he left empty-handed most likely disappointed by the shortage of some items he was intending to buy.
The 76-product range that the store was launched with included some frozen food like frozen peas and pizzas which was actually a great bargain considering the prices at other supermarkets. However, on our first visits (18 & 22 February) the little freezer of the store was utterly empty and well cleaned. When we asked, a security guy informed us that there was no plan to refill it with goods.
In fact when we visited on Thursday, 28 April (no queues – we were the only customers at the time in a store that looked as peaceful as a store can get) there was no freezer at all. So this leaves us with mainly cupboard food. There is a variety of tin food, some pasta, rice, sugar, flour, snacks and biscuits. The management experiments with the range of goods so these may vary.
The main suppliers/’brands’ are:
• happy shopper (tin food e.g. Red Kidney Beans, snacks like mini poppadoms, cheese thins, prawn crackers, cream crackers and easy cook rice)
• Euro Shopper (tinned chopped tomatoes, noodle snacks) and
• Best-in (tomato paste tubes, tinned mixed vegetables, potatoes, chick peas).
The first two brands (happy shopper and euro shopper) are the core brands available at Premier Stores and Londis (both belonging to Booker Group). Best-in belongs to Bestway Ltd which is by the way a 3-minute drive from easyFoodstore.
The proximity of the store to its suppliers and the easy access to them was something noted from the early days of the store’s operation.
There are also other brands represented like Hill Biscuits (Custard Creams) and Donna Chiara (spaghetti).
At our last visit yesterday (Sunday, 31 July) there was a variety of other goods like spices (oregano, curry powder, pepper), coconut milk, rice cakes, dates and even some easy brand promotional items (pens, rulers).
25p per item: is it really cheap?
To be fair, although 25p could sound very cheap, in many cases, compared to other supermarkets, it isn’t. What actually Stelios and the managing people of easyFoodstore have done is to make a selection of products that are sold at similar prices in other grocers.
Another trick has to do with the quantity. For example long grain rice is offered in 500g packets (for 25p). That is 50p per kg. While you can’t find a lower price for a single packet of rice at other supermarkets, for 40p you can buy a one-kg packet (40p per kg) at Lidl and ASDA.
Putting quality aside (for which a more in-depth study would be appropriate – you could try the Daily Mirror) some tinned food can be found cheaper in other supermarkets.
• Red Kidney Beans in water, drained weight 240g is at 23p at Lidl – 2p less; but it’s 30p at TESCO – 5p more
• Potatoes in Salted Water, drained weight 345g is at 15p at Lidl – 10p less and almost double the drained weight (easyFoodstore can is 180g); at TESCO (345g as Lidl) at 20p – 5p lesss
• Sliced Carrots in Water, drained weight 160g is at 19p at Lidl & TESCO – 6p less
However, there are definitely some bargains especially with the “buy one – get one free” offer of easyFoodstore. 2x250ml=500ml of Mayonnaise for 25p is a price much lower than in other supermarkets. Tinned fish, some spices, coconut milk, rice cakes (100g for 25p when Lidl offers 130g for 45p) and dates are also worth considering.
easyFoodstore is in reality an experiment, a pilot store where Stelios Haji-Ioannou tests various of his food retail ideas. With Spartan design and a limited range of products available it can’t really substitute your visits to supermarkets. Still, it’s worth visiting and perhaps – especially if you are a local – including in your mix of stores that you get your food from.
Many thanks to Amalia Gennadiou for her feedback and suggestions during the design process of the infographic.
easyFoodstore easyFoodstore – Homepage
The Guardian EasyFoodstore brings in 10 item limit
Dr Food (aka Professor David Hughes) Tweet on 5 February 2016
ASDA Stores near easyFoodstore (NW10 7XP)
Lidl Store Locator
Morrisons Stores near easyFoodstore (NW10 7XP)
Sainsbury’s Store Locator
TESCO Store Locator
Waitrose Stores near easyFoodstore (NW10 7XP)
Euro Shopper A brand by AMS
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