Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn has opened its first Belgian XL location today, offering a wider range of local products. The focus on things like fresh produce, beer and frozen food makes sure the XL store is "not a hypermarket", the company stresses.
"Second to none"
The size of the brand new 3,500 sqm store in Mechelen does not make it a hypermarket: "We are food specialists, and any non-food products we sell are always food-related", Raf Van den Heuvel says. The director of Albert Heijn Belgium elaborates: "We use the bigger surface to offer a product range that is second to none and to improve our range compared to local customers' needs".
The store focuses on a local product range, featuring a special area dedicated to Mechelen's famous Het Anker brewery. The bakery and meat sections have also been adapted to local tastes, as is the bigger-than-normal frozen food department. "In the Netherlands, this area gets a lot less attention. Belgians, however, often have a larger deep freeze. We noticed this category boom during the pandemic, so I am very happy that we can offer our customers a huge frozen foods range." An Asian Street Food stand and a range of over 400 plant-based products are other eyecatchers in the new store.
Are more Albert Heijn XL stores to be expected in Belgium? Van den Heuvel thinks so: "There are certainly possibilities in larger agglomerations. We are having a good look around."
On 25 November, Raf Van den Heuvel (General Manager Albert Heijn Belgium) will give a keynote speech during the RetailDetail Night, the festive end of the retailing year. Via this link you can find more information and buy tickets. Be quick: the early bird tickets are only available until tomorrow, 29 October!