Focus on fresh produce will place Iceland in head-to-head competition with the likes of Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local.
Frozen foods chain Iceland is gearing up to launch a convenience store format that could eventually come to rival smaller Tesco and Sainsbury’s branches.
Iceland is to begin trialling its new convenience store concept, Swift, on Thursday. If the pilot proves successful, Swift stores could soon start appearing in cities and towns across the UK.
Operating from the site of a former Iceland in the district of Benton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the store will offer double the range that its predecessor offered, according to the company.
While Iceland has carved out a reputation for itself as the main go-to supermarket for frozen goods, differentiating it from the other major grocery chains, the Swift concept – if rolled out – will be cast as a direct competitor to the likes of Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express stores thanks to its focus on fresh produce.
Iceland’s foray into convenience comes as Amazon is shaking up the UK grocery market with its slick cashierless store format, Fresh.
The online powerhouse opened its first physical UK convenience store in Ealing, west London earlier this month. This was followed by a second opening, in Wembley Park, north-west London, today.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, grocery retailers were increasing investing in convenience formats to attract customers on the go, and earmarking larger stores for closure.
While big stores have experienced an unforeseen boost since the onset of Covid-19, with many consumers reverting to one weekly “big shop” – a habit the public was generally drifting away from previously – convenience formats have remained popular as customers have followed stay-at-home orders and shopped locally.
Matt Downes, head of space and format development at Iceland, said of the new Swift offering: “This is a really exciting trial of a completely new concept.
“We believe that the much wider range on offer, Swift’s commitment to faster and easier shopping, and the leveraging of [Iceland’s] buying power to ensure great value, will all make this a convenience store with outstanding customer appeal.”