a visit to the new Netto

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Today I went to have a look at the new Netto store in North Leeds, Netto’s first foray back into the UK market.  Sited at the far end of Sainsbury’s car park on Leeds’ outer ring road its an ideal spot within five minutes of some really diverse residential areas and with substantial passing traffic since it shares a site not only with Sainsbury’s but also Argos and Homebase.

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In marked contrast to a lot of discounters, its a pleasant, airy, well lit store with very strong fresh cues.  There’s a very logical shopping route which echoes the layout of the Big Four, with weekly ‘spot deals’ (including Lego, chocolates and Christmas decorations this week) sited at the center of the store where fresh, chilled and ambient intersect.

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Categories are well signposted with appealing visual imagery alongside clear text and deals and offers are easy to spot as Netto has sensibly held back ‘value yellow’ as a signpost for special value, rather than giving in to the temptation to wallpaper the store with it.  They are also trialing a reassuring Price Checker beside the spot deal bays that lets you scan a barcode to confirm the too-good-to-be-true price before you put it in your basket or trolley.

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Since my visit had been preceded by every retail analyst in the UK and since a suspicious number of my fellow ‘shoppers’ in store had arrived in smart cars wearing smart clothes and had yet to buy anything I decided that honesty was the best policy, announced myself to the wearer of a passing Netto fleece top and ended up having a very interesting chat with one of the store mangers.  He told me that he was on secondment from Sainsbury’s for two years and pointed out Danish store colleagues from Netto who were also on a 2 year UK secondment to help bed the stores in.  The Leeds store may have the highest ratio of mangers to shelf stackers in retail history as they are all finding their feet in Leeds before being sent out to store openings across the North in the coming weeks and months, with 10+ new stores openings planned for this side of Christmas alone.

The store launch hasn’t been without hiccups – I was told that such was the volume of shoppers in the first week that the Danish IT guys had to cobble an extra checkout together using wooden crates as a base to try and keep the queues down.  And as of today they were selling some rather nice looking fresh salmon for the princely sum of £1.2oish due to a glitch in the new supply chain that overwhelmed them with fresh fish.  It was such a good deal I saw a shopper stop staff to double-check that the price label was really correct.  Then she bought 4 :)

All in all I was very impressed.  Netto value meets Sainsbury’s shopability and customer service.  As the sign says, the new evolution of Netto offers nice things in a nice shop at nice prices.

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