The US is frequently characterised as a country with relatively few coast-to-coast operators, but that has a host of large regional players that dominate a particular state or cluster of states.
One of these is San Antonio-based HEB. This is a food retailer that the majority of people in the UK will
never have heard of but it operates stores across Texas, from the relatively small to this 80,000 sq ft behemoth in Montrose, an urban neighbourhood of Houston.
Opened in autumn last year, the store’s design was selected by 300 local residents at a meeting and stands on the site of a former apartment complex that contained several old oaks, which have been retained as part of the new store blueprint.
And as well as a very substantial internal area, the store also features an external plaza that is used for farmers’ markets at the weekend and”food truck selling days”.
The real action is to be found inside the shop however, where the single floor plays host to a large area for ‘fresh’ food that also happens, yes, to be ‘easy’ to shop.
Tesco has found the going tough in the Southwest of the US and one of the reasons is the existence of long-established acts such as HEB.
An in-store bakery, a fresh juice bar, a cheese shop and a ‘cafe on the run’ add to the impression that this is a store that means business and which really can serve as a one-stop shop.
Houston tends to have a warmer and more mild climate than the UK, which goes a long way towards explaining the fact that products from the café on the run can be enjoyed in the store or at one of the tables and chairs lined up along its exterior.