Owners of PLUS supermarkets are free to decide their own fresh produce department. Manager Rik Linssen, right hand man to PLUS owner Chris Grinwis, is therefore consciously seeking cooperation with local traders and cultivators. “For example, we have very good agreements with a local strawberry cultivator,” Linssen says. However, local deals are not common. “It would be quite nice if traders approached us with propositions, we can place large volumes here.” Linssen expects more entrepreneurs within PLUS to be open to local deals. PLUS has 280 branches, which are in hands of independent entrepreneurs for about 95 per cent. The majority of the fresh produce assortment is done through central purchase from PLUS Netherlands.
Fresh produce supervisor Arie van Strien stocking the shelves. Photo: Rik Linssen
Focus on fresh produce
For PLUS, bread and fresh produce are the focus departments. Linssen: “At PLUS supermarkets, we noticed that the fresh produce department did not do much with seasons and large batches. Three months ago, we completely modernised the fresh produce department, in order to better display volumes and flavourful content of fruit and vegetables. By placing it nicely, and paying additional attention to it, we have noticed sales have increased. We are becoming better at playing that game.”
Consumers buy the vegetables they cook that very evening. “Quality therefore has to be good. We regularly monitor that during the day,” Linssen continues. Fresh supply arrives twice per day, in both loose and freshly sliced and packaged products. Linssen: “Customers choose convenience, especially if the price difference is insignificant compared to loose, uncut products. Cooling is an important part of the fresh produce department.”
Organic fresh produce
There is currently a trial ongoing with organic fresh produce displayed on a different shelf, with the vegetables in noticeable wooden crates. “The organic market is growing, so we definitely need to pay attention to that,” Linssen says. It is not yet clear what the separated presentation will mean for organic produce. “People who eat organic produce as a matter of principle will be able to find the organic products in any case. But now that we are offering it separately, we are hoping to find out if less committed customers we be able to find organic alternatives.”
Fresh produce supervisor Arie van Strien. Photo: Rik Linssen
For a successful fresh produce department, creative people with professional knowledge are needed. A fresh produce supervisor needs to anticipate the seasons, the weather forecast and trends, and combine all of these factors with the available supply. Linssen concludes that it is difficult to find really good greengrocers among young people. It is therefore important to train people internally. “After all, the most important mark you leave on the shop, is your own,” Linssen concludes.
For more information:
PLUS Grinwis Halsteren
4661 HN Halsteren, the Netherlands
T: +31 (0)164 683 271