VENDOR AND SUPPLIERS | Staff Reporter, Australia

The fresh take on convenience

Initially opening its first Metro Store in 2012, the fresh food people at Woolworths have upped their game in the convenience space with the opening of the new Pitt Street Metro Store.

(Editor's Note: Originally published in Front Burner Magazine.)

Adapting to the needs of the modern day inner city consumer, the Pitt Street Woolworths Metro Store features a café, grab-and-go meals, lunch for under $10 and a smaller sized supermarket for when you just need those key items for tonight’s tea.

“There’s a real need from a customer perspective around coffee, food for now and food for later so we’ve been on a bit of a journey over the past few years really and transitioning our business to be more predominantly positioned in that space as opposed to just groceries,” said Senior Food Service Manager Michael Brown.

Having worked in fast paced foodservice operations such as McDonalds and Oporto for almost 30 years, Michael was instrumental is setting up the foodservice operation at the Pitt Street store. One of the key areas Michael was tasked with was figuring out which suppliers to partner with to help develop the in-store menu, and having worked previously with Comcater and RATIONAL, it was a no-brainer for Michael.

“I first met Paul Gruar (Comcater Business Development Manager for National Accounts) back 13 years ago when he put the first RATIONAL oven into Oporto,” Michael explained.

“We’ve had a long standing relationship and seeing the development of the RATIONAL oven over time and the technology that’s now available… so to me it was a logical fit to be able to work with both the RATIONAL ovens and Comcater to deliver our end outcome."

Michael and the Metro team we’re impressed with the level of support offered in order to get their new menu off the ground.

“Paul and the team at Comcater have been amazing at working with us and building the menu up. In fact they’ve been working with us for the last 2 years building a menu that will work through the RATIONAL ovens. We’ve been everywhere through Comcater and worked with the various chefs throughout Comcater to be able to use the ovens as our platform to be able to deliver the foodservice menu.”

The entire café, lunch and grab-and-go menu is producing utilising RATIONAL ovens, with a six and ten tray SelfCookingCentre® units producing the grab-and-go menu and 2 SelfCookingCentre® XS units installed in the café.

According to Michael, the XS unit is the perfect fit for any café operation.

“We run our entire café menu out of that oven [the XS] so basically it replaces 90% of the rest of the kit you need. So you don’t need fryers, you don’t need other ovens, you don’t need grills, so the investment is worth it because once you buy all the other pieces of kit that you would normally need to run a café kitchen it easily pays for it all in just the RATIONAL oven.

“The great thing about it is that we can pre-program everything for the store teams so literally for the store teams they press the appropriate button for that particular menu item and the oven just cooks it itself.”

Michael says the customer feedback since opening the store has been fantastic.

“They’re amazed by the store; they’ve never seen a Woolworths store like this. Lunch under $10 in the city is unheard of and here were delivering … great quality food like chicken curry and rice for 8$, add a drink and you get change from $10; you just don’t get that anywhere else.”

Woolworths’ fresh take on convenience is certainly a hit with customers, and with plans in the works to replicate the success of the Pitt Street store it’s clear the supermarket space is about to undergo some drastic changes.

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