Stirlingretail

Whole Foods Giffnock – Apples or Pears?

Whole Foods Market, Giffnock.  Yes, Whole Foods Market, Giffnock. You have to say it twice to quite believe it.  Did you really think that the next foray into the wider UK by Whole Foods Market would land up in Giffnock?  Really?

But on the 16th November that is precisely what happened with the opening of 20,000 sq ft of US organic-oriented food and retailing in Giffnock, just down from the Morrisons.

Now I’ve been watching Whole Foods for well over a decade.  When living and travelling in the US I’ve gone out of my way to visit them.  We’ve taken study tours over to look at them, and some delegates bear the live lobster scars to this day.

Their flagship store in Kensington, London was interesting, but a disappointment in parts to me. I never felt their takeover of Fresh & Wild made sense (though the private label went from 365 to Fresh & Wild,  which does sound better) and clearly they thought the same, as half the original few stores were closed. Trading has not been wonderful in the UK, and like other US big box imports, early claims of tens or hundreds of stores have never materialised.

So Giffnock was obvious, right?

The Saturday immediately after opening is probably not the ideal time to visit a new store to see how it’s doing, but I really couldn’t wait.  So Giffnock on a Saturday morning, it was. And my impressions?

So, watch this space.  An overseas import, in a big box, at a high price point, during a recession, is a bold move.  But Whole Foods adds something to Scotland and provides a true lesson on product presentation and aspects of sourcing.  They look great – and tend to taste great – and set the bar really very high, though at a price.

If you can’t get to Giffnock anytime soon then this West Coast rap video on the Whole Food Parking Lot might given you some sense of the original (or not) – thanks to Jonathan Rippon for the link.

In another international expansion of note, Decathlon the French sports retailer opens in Edinburgh this week, and is threatening both to expand to 6 stores (this will be its second) in Scotland and to bring its sports village concept to Scotland.  The sports village provides a mega-store and sporting facilities on one site.  If this materialises then another challenge will be laid down to indigenous retailers.