Thursday 22 March 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 22/3/2018

The Monocle Minute


All you can eat

When it comes to food retail, few concepts come close to La Grande Epicerie, the LVMH-backed Paris emporium featured in Monocle’s March issue. Today, however, the leading German food retailer Zurheide Feine Kost is launching its latest supermarket concept in Düsseldorf and it promises to offer a glimpse into the future of the industry. Designed by Interstore and built by Schweitzer Project, the supermarket is vast – it’s got more floor space than the White House (although perhaps a few less cans of Diet Coke). There is an emphasis on making products in-store, peerless food-to-go for the busy and a gourmet restaurant.

Image: Getty Images


Silent majority

A new survey has stated in no uncertain terms that Americans “want to be left alone while shopping”. The poll, conducted by HRC Retail Advisory, revealed that 95 per cent of the 2,900 people quizzed would rather not speak to a shop assistant while browsing for clothes. This result will resonate (and concern) retailers grappling with how to keep customers happy. Concern, because until now they’ve been told that “experiential” (an awful word that brings to mind perfume-squirters and perhaps a juggler) is a potential solution – and one that definitely does not involve leaving you in peace. Some retailers are banking instead on technology delivering higher sales but fewer “can I help you” moments. Trailblazers in this field include Farfetch (the e-commerce company working with Chanel to enhance in-store shopping experiences) and Arket, which uses a simple ID system to enable customers to discover more details about items by using their phones. But retailers should be wary of getting rid of the human element: knowledgeable staff on hand at the right moment still land sales.

Image: Shutterstock


Helping hand

The Greek government may have tightened its purse strings over the past few years but it has had a little (financial) help from friends. One of Greece’s repeat national benefactors is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, named after the late Greek shipping tycoon, which most recently built the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in Athens with new facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. Now the philanthropic organisation has announced the construction of two public hospitals designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. When a country’s as cash-strapped as Greece is, productive collaborations between the public and private sectors aren’t just good news, they’re a lifeline.

Image: Getty Images

Gun control

Turning tide?

For many gun-control advocates in the US, it’s hard to imagine a change in the country’s gun laws. And yet something feels different since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Indeed, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students-turned-activists have managed to bring widespread and sustained attention to their cause over recent weeks – resulting in mass school walkouts and protest marches, such as the ones taking place this Saturday. And big-name businesses have been taking a stand too and risking the wrath of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the process. From United Airlines and Delta ending ties with the NRA, to outdoor retailer REI suspending products made by a company that also manufactures assault-style rifles, brands are embracing the sea change. And the hipster’s favourite, La Colombe coffee, is launching a blend and donating half of the proceeds to the Everytown for Gun Safety movement. Whether it leads to change remains to be seen but the silence has been broken and brands should feel a greater freedom to step out of line.

Image: Shutterstock

Will Shinzo Abe become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister?

A few months ago it was as though nothing would stop Shinzo Abe from becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, a title he would gain in November 2019. But now there’s a scandal on the front pages and pressure is mounting within his own party. Kenji Hall ponders Abe’s political survival.

Monocle Films / Czech Republic

Brno: fully functional

The Czech Republic’s second city was central to European design before falling into a troubled 20th-century sleep.


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