As Selfridges’ new owners formally take the keys to the legendary department store business, one of their priorities is to modernise the food hall at the Oxford Street flagship.
Food retail – especially in destination locations – provides a great opportunity to create memorable, experiential retail packed with theatre.
Drawing on the expertise of Retail Week’s Twitter community, we have put together a selection of some great food halls to inspire the new Selfridges team – or anybody in food retail.
They include some of the world’s other great department stores, such as Selfridges’ London rival Harrods, seen by many as the preeminent department store food hall, and Lotte in Seoul, South Korea, which was revamped by CADA Design to be “modern, dynamic and future-proof”.
Le Bon Marché in Paris and its Grande Épicerie stores are seen as world-class food destinations, which live up to France’s gastronomic reputation.
In recent years, the boundaries between food halls where products are purchased and food courts where customers eat have increasingly blurred – think Eataly, for instance.
That can often be seen in markets, which also frequently fulfil both purposes, as well as epitomising the vibrancy and sense of occasion that the best food destinations often have.
Locations such as Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market, Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Chelsea Market in New York’s meatpacking district, or the market in the Big Apple’s Grand Central Station provide theatre and inspiration as mouthwatering as the food on offer.
Lego head of digital product Angela Maurer is a fan of Sarona Market. She says: “Enter the food hall and you’re immediately struck by the buzz and vibe.
“All around the outside are open shops fronts with friendly sellers who are very happy to let you taste the halva or advise you on what you need. It’s such a vibrant experience.”
Supermarkets have also upped their game in how they present and sell food, and some have become famous for their flair.
Savvy Marketing chief executive Catherine Shuttleworth likes Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel. She says: “If I were rethinking a food hall, I would start off by having a glass of Cava in the San Miguel market and breathe in the atmosphere – a mixture of locals meeting after work with friends, tourists and passersby, sampling food from passionate makers and sellers and enjoying a range of drinks from Sherry to hot chocolate with churros. An inspirational space that’s not easily forgettable.”
Retail consultant Graham Soult is a fan of Maxi Gourmet Market in the basement of the Maxi department store in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The store is owned by grocer Mercator and Soult says: “The Maxi Gourmet Market really has the wow factor. The store is impeccably maintained and attractively lit, the range of Slovenian wine is the best you are likely to see anywhere, and the counters serving meat, cheese and other deli items are beautiful and full of temptation. Even the in-store signage and POS are elegant and minimal, letting the visual delights of the products sell themselves.”
There are opportunities by the plateful for Selfridges, already well known for its food hall, to create an even more appetising environment with a truly outstanding gastronomic destination.
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