Sainsbury’s has confirmed it has closed its concept food shop Fresh Kitchen in London, following a year-long trial.
The takeaway shop, which sold everything from sandwiches, pastries and wraps to soups, curries, and salads, opened in January last year, and looked set to heat up competition in the lunchtime market.
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said the retailer had learnt a lot from the trial, such as what the ideal footprint should be, “and we don’t want to compromise on either quality or service by staying in the Fleet Street store”.
There was no seating at the store and Sainsbury’s branding was kept to a minimum, with the shop instead highlighting the fact that products were freshly prepared on-site.
At the time of the launch last year, Sainsbury’s remained tight-lipped on whether the brand would be rolled out nationally or would appear in its supermarkets, although it did say “watch this space”.
“While we may come back to the high street in the future with a bigger and slightly different offering, we are not going to renew the lease for the current store,” said the spokesperson.
David Gray, UK retail analyst, Planet Retail, said one of the key points was that the outlet was much smaller than Sainsbury’s was used to operating. “However Sainsbury’s has said it may consider launching a slightly larger outlet in the future,” said Gray. “Location-wise, it was also quite difficult, as there was a lot of competition from well-established sandwich chains.”
Gray also questioned its development of a Fresh Kitchen own-brand label, and said he personally would have used the strong Sainsbury’s brand in the outlet.
“Sainsbury’s has got a very strong brand. In the past few years, especially, it has really come into its own, with the continued focus on value. It has done a fantastic job in marketing own-label products. Even with the Basics range, it has certain values behind it,” he said.
On the positive side, he believed the retailer would take the insights learned from the trial and apply them elsewhere in stores, perhaps by widening its hot food offering in Sainsbury’s Local outlets.
Gray added that one of the factors behind Sainsbury’s success could be its focus on food, which he thinks they will maintain. In comparison to retailers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s food/non-food ratio is much greater.