Camden Grocer confident in London expansion despite risk of second lockdown
The Camden Grocer is expanding despite a potential second wave of coronavirus, opening a new department store-style unit near Borough Market.
The new shop has been set up in the former Menier Chocolate Factory as a joint venture with the building’s landlord, Southwark Square Ltd.
Menier Store features a retail and café area curated by The Camden Grocer as well as various concessions including house plant company In-Tray Plants and a Scandinavian-style homewares brand.
The Camder Grocer’s co-founders Matt Bunch and Scott Winston told FFD that they had been talking to the landlord loosely about launching a grocery project, but they were then approached mid-lockdown about fast-tracking the idea.
The concept evolved from there, said Bunch, into a department-style store where the Grocer’s team runs the administrative side of the business.
“It’s something we wanted to explore, it felt like the right time to do it and it was all going to be done on a very low-risk, low-cost basis,” he said.
While Bunch admitted that it wasn’t the most obvious time to launch a London food store, he remained confident. “There’s not as many people commuting in right now, but they will return, there are people living and working here and there’s been a lot of development in the area in the last few years. It’s a calculated risk.”
Winston said that the pair could see an opportunity in the idea despite the circumstances surrounding COVID.
“If things change dramatically, then we have a contingency,” he said. “We’ll pivot the business just like we did at Camden.”
On the decision to incorporate concessions, Winston said: “What we’ve always said is that we want to build an offer that’s right for the environment and what the customer wants.
“Having that big space gave us an opportunity to look at a broader range of products which complement themselves because they’re lifestyle based, and that seems to be working – the customers are saying they love what we’re doing.
“We’ll continue to flex the offer based on what the customers want.”
The new store, which had a soft launch on Friday 18th September, will initially have two full-time members of staff and will be looking to expand the team if the business grows as footfall increases.
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