Wholesale distribution company Metcash is ramping up its fight against supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, after launching a new food franchise called Harvest Market.
Harvest Market offers consumers high-quality fruit and vegetables in addition to a delicatessen, a continental grocery, bulk goods and fresh flowers.
The network of independently-owned, franchised outlets is expected to be rolled out nationwide. But like fellow Metcash brand IGA, the concept will have a strong site-specific trading culture, with daily and weekly deals.
According to Metcash, Harvest Market addresses the “rapidly changing” tastes and habits of grocery shoppers.
The concept is targeted at “top-up” buyers or people picking up items on their way home from work.
The first three Harvest Market stores have opened in regional NSW – in Wollongong, Dapto and Warilla.
The Wollongong store has taken the place of the former Fresh and More greengrocer and deli, while the stores in Dapto and Warilla are located in converted Mitchell’s Fruit For Less stores.
These stores are the first of 14 scheduled to open in the state over the next few months.
Nick Pagett, general manager of fresh fruit at Metcash Food & Grocery, said Harvest Market is expected to provide a “strong challenge” to the national chains and specialised fresh food outlets.
“The independent, franchised outlets provide good value, pitched at the middle of the market, and are extending their ranges from fruit and vegetables to include other fresh delicatessen and continental grocery products,” he said.
Pagett said the Harvest Market chain offers existing greengrocers the benefits of a franchise network.
The launch of the new brand follows the introduction of the IGA Marketplace in Sydney and Brisbane.
Aimed at inner-city residents, the IGA Marketplace offers a selection of more than 11,000 grocery products, with an emphasis on fresh and gourmet ranges, in addition to a full-service delicatessen and café.
The IGA Marketplace store is the first of a range of contemporary IGA stores to be rolled out on greenfield sites, and former IGA and Franklins sites.
But Metcash isn’t the only company attempting to claw back market share from the major supermarket chains.
In December last year, the Australian branch of global food retailer Spar flagged plans to franchise its new brand, Jardin Fresh Life, after opening three stores.
The brand is characterised by large format stores with a major focus on fresh produce, sourced fresh from the markets daily, while in-store butchers prepare all the meat on site.
A continental deli and fresh bakery department, along with grocery, liquor and specialty foods sections, round out the offer.
“We’re perfecting the model to get it right so we can… start launching it as an offer,” Spar Australia managing director Lou Jardin told StartupSmart.