Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 72
M&M Food Market
one-third of the products available in its stores are brand
new, and several previously available, but low-selling, products have been discontinued.
As part of its new food commitment, more than 95 percent of M&M products have no artificial colors, flavors
or sweeteners, as well as no added trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils). Approximately 94 percent of the seafood
sourced by M&M meets its sustainability guidelines. The
company intends to raise the percentage of products that
meet its food commitment to 100 percent by the end of the
year, O'Brien adds.
A New Experience
In addition to offering new and improved products, M&M
has changed the placement of those products within its
stores. "Our store experience required the most attention
and the most amount of change," O'Brien says.
Stores were formerly organized around a butcher counter,
behind the counter were the freezers and the menu boards.
Store employees would take orders, grab products, and hand
them to the customer. "This was great in the 1980 or 1990s,
when people wanted that kind of service, but today people
want productivity - standing in line behind two or three
other people is not productive," he adds.
In the new store design, the counter has been removed
to give people free access to the freezers and the products.
Personalized service is still available in the form of M&M
Meal Advisors, who can assist customers in meal planning.
"Our advisors are there to help people when they want to
be helped," O'Brien says, noting that meal advisors typically
accompany customers through the store, offering one-onone service.
The checkout and other areas of the stores are also now
arranged to be more convenient. "We're not a big box - you
can get in and out of our stores in 10 minutes or less," he
adds, noting that M&M stores average 1,500 square feet in
size and are located in neighborhoods.
'A Winning Design'
M&M Food Market worked closely with Shikatani Lacroix Design, a Toronto-based strategic design and branding agency, to develop its new retail look. "They helped us
come up with a design we knew would work with our concept based on our business vision and consumer research,"
O'Brien says. "They came up with a winning design that
worked for our business."
O'Brien calls the transformation process highly strategic.
"The process was based on our vision of rebranding the business to bring it into the current day, which is driven by our
five-year plan that clearly lays out our strategic needs," he
says. "The rebranding has improved our business not just
from a consumer sales standpoint, but also economically for
our franchise partners."
The M&M Food Market rebranding is one of several
projects O'Brien has worked on with Shikatani Lacroix.
"They are a great agency that serves its clients well," he adds.
"They will also tell their clients not what they want to hear,
but what they need to hear - which is the best thing to do,
and is why I like working with them."
M&M Food Market continues to make improvements to
its overall operations. The company is installing a new POS
system that will better allow it to know and react to customer preferences. Following the installation of the new POS
system within the next 12 months, M&M also intends to
launch a new consumer relationship management system
that will include an updated loyal program.
Recently completed technology upgrades include the
M&M "Click & Collect" online shopping tool, which enables customers to order products online and pick them up
at their local store within two hours of ordering. The company intends to reduce its online order pickup lead time to
one hour, O'Brien notes.
All of the M&M Food Market changes are being overseen and carried out by a head office staff that, like the stores
themselves, has been significantly changed in the past few
years. "Repositioning our brand started with retooling our
head office, then improving all of our relationships with
franchise, supply and financial partners," he adds.
The company's future plans include bringing M&M beyond the borders of Canada. "There is a need for this concept in just about every market in the world, and we're getting interest elsewhere," O'Brien says. "We want to expand
internationally, which includes entering several core markets
in the United States in the near future." O