Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Colruyt Group is introducing 'Spar For You': a new food service which addresses the retail group's B2B customers, while it also creates a synergistic collaboration between different services within the group. It concerns a 24/7 catering concept which responds to today's changing consumer needs, such as flexible working, working in shifts and 'on-the-go' consumption. Spar For You is a solution tailored to the needs of B2B customers, and currently includes the options of installing a food corner, minimarket and/or smart refrigerators. The first extensive Spar For You installation was recently set up at UCB. Plans are also in the pipeline to implement the service in more public places.
New forms of catering due to changed work context
Over the past two years, employers have been looking for different ways to make their operations even more cost-efficient due to the global pandemic and economic crisis. To do this, they are investigating different aspects of their organisation, including company catering. Employees are indeed increasingly working from home. The National Catering Report 2022 shows that the proportion of (occasional) home workers has risen from 24% to 40% since the Covid-19 crisis1.
Because almost 1 in 2 Belgian employees are no longer in the office every day, traditional company catering - including fresh lunches served at set hours - needs to be reconsidered in many organisations. Employees want to be able to consume their meals at times that suit them personally: up to 35 % says they want to have lunch at flexible times2.
From this perspective, Colruyt Group is now introducing Spar For You, where Spar stands for fresh products and the love of good food. The Spar For You food services are user-friendly, contactless and available 24/7 to the end user. In this way, Spar For You responds to the on-the-go lifestyle, where food and drink are not only consumed on the spot but also on the road, at home or at work. Companies can also accomplish a huge efficiency gain by operating a Spar For You catering concept. Supply, security and technology are all reliably and easily provided by Spar For You. The main goal is to provide maximum support for catering services at companies, but B2B customers also get insights into sales results and assortment selection via a back-end system. This allows B2B customers to make adjustments where necessary or to take control of (part of) the operation themselves if they wish.
Johan Vermeire, General Manager B2B Food Retail at Colruyt Group, believes that a real difference can be made by adapting to the new consumption pattern with innovative solutions: "With Spar For You, Colruyt Group responds directly to the changing needs of companies, their employees and, more generally, the on-the-go consumer. In this changing context, Colruyt Group can provide a unique combination of internal retail and food service expertise, as well as technology. We believe that bringing together broad expertise from across the group in multiple segments can lead to value creation for our customers. Spar Colruyt Group, our B2B food service Solucious and our innovation hub Smart Technics are delivering a strong project here."
Different concepts tailored to the customer
Because every company has different needs in terms of catering, Spar For You currently has three different types of set-ups available. B2B customers can thus choose what is most suitable for their specific business situation. The set-ups can also be visually adapted to the company's look and feel.
The smallest possible set-up is the implementation of standalone smart refrigerators. The smart refrigerators are refrigerated storage cabinets developed by Smart Technics, Colruyt Group's innovation hub. Stocking, in turn, is done by Solucious, Colruyt Group's B2B food service specialist. Today, the smart refrigerators have been successfully in use for almost a year at the various Jims gym chain clubs. A masterpiece of innovation with extensive food and drink options, 24/7 available and secure. In practice, it works as follows: a customer pre-authorises a purchase with his bank card, can then open the fridge and serve themselves. The technology automatically recognises what is removed from or put back on the shelf and debits the correct final purchase amount from the account.
For companies that want to offer more extensive food service to their employees, there is a second type of set-up: the food corner, which consists of two smart refrigerators, plus a coffee machine, water tap and industrial microwave ovens. This concept can also be complemented by a seating area, which will turn the food corner into a real meeting place.
Finally, there is the minimarket: the total self-service solution, where a non-food offer can be provided in addition to a wide range of food and drinks. This flexible set-up means that employees can find everything they need in the minimarket 24/7, both during and after work. Indeed, 4 out of 10 Belgian employees say they like to take home meals or groceries from work3.
Spar For You continues to explore and develop the various shop concepts, while the food service is also considering other technologies. This is to always provide the most appropriate set-up tailored to the specific demand. The intention is for Spar For You to increasingly become a multifunctional service.
First extensive project in pharmaceutical company UCB
Spar For You has set up a number of test projects in recent months, including the installation of smart refrigerators at ISS headquarters and SN Brussels Airlines. A major new case was added in early 2023: UCB. The Belgian multinational biopharmaceutical company has the three different Spar For You set-ups in place at its site in Braine-l'Alleud.
Brecht Vanthemsche, facilities specialist at UCB, says: "At UCB, we obviously want to evolve with the times and we think it's important that our employees have the necessary flexibility, including in their meal breaks. That’s why we started looking for new catering options and before too long we came across Spar For You. We are very excited to introduce our new catering concept to our employees. For us at least, this is the ideal formula, where we remain agile as a company and can respond to our employees' habits. For example, our employees can still quickly buy something from the minimarket to take home. This way, we also help them in the context of working from home or preparing their evening meals. The fact that, in all this, the management of our catering is fully taken off our plate, is the absolute icing on the cake for us."
1 From the National Catering Report 2022, page 17.
2 From the National Catering Report 2022, page 73.
3 From the National Catering Report 2022, page 175.