Movenpick: taking pride in fresh ideas

Retailer of Distinction: Movenpick CanadaReason: Product innovationThe concept is simple behind Movenpick Marche, an 18,000-square-foot restaurant market complex located in downtown Toronto, says Jorg Reichert, president of Movenpick Canada.'Fresh, fresh, fresh,' Reichert says. 'Everything is made from scratch, right in front...

Retailer of Distinction: Movenpick Canada

Reason: Product innovation

The concept is simple behind Movenpick Marche, an 18,000-square-foot restaurant market complex located in downtown Toronto, says Jorg Reichert, president of Movenpick Canada.

‘Fresh, fresh, fresh,’ Reichert says. ‘Everything is made from scratch, right in front of the customers.’

‘We work out of the baskets and into the pot,’ he says. ‘There are no secrets. Everything is fresh and transparent.’

Four thousand customers a day visit the Marche to eat the freshly prepared food on-site, take it home, or buy the ingredients to prepare it themselves.

European trend

Reichert says incorporating a bakery, a produce market, a seafood bar, a pasta station, a grill and several bistros, the Marche is a free-flow restaurant that capitalizes on a European trend.

‘About six years ago, supermarkets in Germany discovered there’s big business in serving prepared foods,’ he says. ‘They also discovered that consumption on-site could easily add another 10% to sales.’

Reichert says the Marche turns that idea around, with sales of specialty products supplementing on-site meals for ‘a total restaurant experience.’

Q. In what order of importance do you place the following categories: merchandising, trade and supplier relations, product innovation, customer service, advertising, database marketing and staff relations?

A. Customer service, staff relations, merchandising, product innovation, trade and supplier relations, advertising and database marketing.

Happy customers

One thing is clear. You need very happy customers these days to make it through the tough times. And you won’t have happy customers if you don’t have happy staff. And the best merchandising won’t help you if you don’t have the first two.

Q. What have been the most startling changes in retail over the past couple of years?

A. Very simple. Everybody was talking service and quality and nobody lived up to it. Now, more and more, they have to learn what that means – quality and value.

Treatment

I don’t think that we know it all, but I can tell you one thing, in the last 10 years I have always treated my customers the same way.

During the good days, five years ago, when people used to line up for seats, we served our customers a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice as a thank-you for waiting.

We always acted immediately upon complaints. We never got arrogant. That’s the reason why, over the last year and a half, we are still maintaining a very good business, without having cut our prices, or having to change anything.

Q. What trends can you see on the horizon that will most affect your business?

A. I cannot see a change coming in our economy. People are worried all over the place. People are careful in spending, and it’s going to take a lot to get the optimistic flavor of the ’80s back. That will take a little while.

We have to be more competitive. We have to offer more for less dollars. Marche is right for that – I think we did the right thing. You can have a nice dinner for $10, as well as a lot of fun.

Q. What qualities does one need to stay ahead of the pack?

A. Total commitment to the business you are running. You have to set an example, every day, every minute. You need to provide leadership. If you have to work 16 hours a day, so be it. If you are not people- and product-oriented, forget it.

I think everything is ‘feeling’ as well. To make it, feeling is the most important quality. Too many people are doing things without the right feeling.

Q. How do you stay on top of your concept?

A. I am very closely, totally involved We have a comment card system in place. I have hired a company that reviews each of our restaurants three times a month, from the customer’s point of view.

They come into our restaurant, I don’t know when they are coming. They write a report about their experience. They tell us if the washrooms were clean, how many minutes they had to wait in reception, what time the waiter showed up – it’s just a feeling, not a checklist.

It’s very possible that [my wife and I] have not performed, ourselves. It’s not just that I control my employees, I control myself as well.

Q. How has the recession affected your business?

A. We have not been affected too much. We were used to 25% or 30% growth. From last year on, we had some stagnation in sales. At least we have not lost sales. Without the new operations, we have increased our sales by $25 million, or 10%. I’m very happy with that. With the new operations, it’s going to mean 40% more sales.