Large retailers are buying smaller ones and there is good reason for them to do so, but they need to respect what they’ve acquired.
So why create something new when you can adapt what’s already there? Increasingly, this seems to be the line of thinking among some of the biggest retailers with Tesco leading the charge. The opening of a Harris+Hoole coffee shop at the retailer’s store close to London Bridge is a case in point. This was a format that Tesco backed last year with the first H+H outpost opening in Amersham. Now the artisanal coffee shop has been adapted for use as part of a Tesco store offer – although care has been taken to keep the two separate yet together, as it were.
Expect the same to happen with Giraffe, the family-friendly restaurant chain that Tesco snapped up a month or so back. This may well make an appearance as part of a Tesco at some point in the not too distant future and if it is treated with the same degree of sensitivity as seems to have been apparent with H+H, then it should be a successful addition.
The point about all of this is that the bigger chains have plenty to get their teeth into - think WH Smith and its acquisition of Past Times, announced last week, and the Habitat implants, which can now be found in selected Homebase stores. It would appear that canny retailers are in a good position to capitalise on weakness and to take elements from the high street and install them as part of their proposition with the sum of the parts hopefully being greater than the individual constituents.
Maybe so, but taking an existing retail format and then inserting it, in a generally smaller form, into a series of bigger host stores can only work if there is an appropriateness strategy in place. This is where Tesco has scored with its H+H London Bridge store. It may be part of the store, but a separate entrance from the rest of the branch and a self-contained interior that is nothing like the rest of the branch, ensure that if you didn’t know this was part of Tesco, you might be none the wiser.
This is not to say that either H+H or Tesco are bad at this location – they’re both pretty good, but they are different and care has been taken to maintain this, instead of allowing a process of creeping Tescification. The message it would seem is that adding rogue chains to the portfolio is probably a good idea, but care should be taken to respect what they were about in the first place. Obvious, but easy to overlook.