A Valora team developed the concept for the new avec stores in just five months. This concept incorporates the latest food-on-the-go and convenience trends and combines them in foodvenience of the highest level. Roger Vogt, CEO Retail at Valora, talks about the handmade and ultra-fresh products, the regional produce label ‘Von hier.’ (‘From here.’) and the new store design.
I like to cut right to the chase. Things must go fast and have a targeted outcome, and we must also show courage. This is the only way for a company to keep surprising its customers in an extremely fast-paced market. And I am convinced that we managed to do this with the launch of the new avec. The first store was opened in July 2018 at the main station in Bern and eight others have followed until now. This concept and its implementation are underpinned by enormous courage, unbelievable passion and a great team performance.
Customer needs are the key drivers
Snacking, out-of-home consumption, mobility. These are irreversible trends in our society. Ever more micro households, no big shopping trips on a weekend, ever more commuters. These people all meet at transport hubs and want to quickly buy or eat something on the go. Who else should meet these needs but Valora with its around 1,200 small-scale points of sale at such highly frequented locations? My team thought about what we could do differently. The new avec should be more modern, fresher and healthier. Joining forces with our Innovation Lab, we studied the trends and finally also found convincing solutions.
‘Handmade with Love’
One of the most important needs that we wish to meet with the new avec is the permanent availability of ultra-fresh products. Under the ‘Handmade with Love’ label, we offer a varying array of fresh products that are, where possible, prepared on site several times a day, including some 50 sandwich creations and numerous crispy salads. The fast-food selection is thus rounded off with warm dishes as well as healthy vegetable and fruit cups and mueslis. The development of regional production hubs also allows us to service our stores with fresh products faster, several times a day and in a more environmentally friendly way.
Regional products ‘from here’
Not only our product hubs are new, but also our product range of regional specialities. Under the new label ‘Von hier. Regional für dich.’ (‘From here. Regional for you.’), we present products from twelve different sales regions that are only available in the stores of the respective region. For example, Zurich water as well as numerous cheese, egg, sausage and dairy products. With the label – a complete novelty on the Swiss convenience market – we show our commitment to greater sustainability by supporting smaller businesses and shorter transport routes. We also ensure that at least two-thirds of the value added of these products is generated in the respective region.
Delicacies, coffee and food bloggers
In addition to regional products, a selected range of delicatessen products such as tureens, vinaigrettes and risotto mixes have also been available at avec since the start of the year. These are initially available at the avec store at Küsnacht station. We sell products of the traditional Neuchâtel business ‘Aux Gourmets’, which has belonged to the Valora Group since mid-October 2018. An even wider selection of snacking products, Starbucks modules at all station stores without their own Starbucks branch and alternating sandwich creations from the food blogger Nicole Giger (www.magsfrisch.com) round off the changes to our range.
The right products at the right time, at every location
No two avec stores are the same. The flexible concept can be implemented both in a compact setting or in larger areas with seats together with convenience and locally supplied products. Thanks to the modular store structure, we are also very adaptable with respect to our product range, something that was very important to us. We want to be able to quickly take on and respond to customer feedback. With all of this variation, two elements of all our stores are the same: our innovative hot and cold counter which brings together products that belong together and the bread table in the centre of the store. From early in the morning until late in the evening, the bread table is home to different enticingly fragrant, fresh bread and baked goods depending on the time of day and season.
Motivated as we head into the future
People just have to like coming into our store. This is our overarching goal. We want to be the freshest, friendliest and most regional provider with the most attractive prices on the convenience market. As no concept is forever and the process is never complete, we will also have new and fresh ideas and surprises ready in future. With avec box, the next step will see the creation of Switzerland’s most modern convenience store and the first without cash registers.
Already at nine locations
The new avec can currently be found in Switzerland at the following locations:
- Berne station
- Landquart station
- Zurich Oerlikon station
- Zurich main station
- Tamoil service station in Wettingen
- Tamoil service station in Saanen-Gstaad
- Interlaken West station
- Küsnacht station
- Langenthal station
Photos and video: nische.productions/nonophotography, Noë Flum, Valora
The contents of this article appeared for the first time on 19 July and 2 August 2018.