If you were to design the perfect supermarket, what would it look like? So the story goes, at one point during Aldi Australia’s recent network redesign, one of the group’s two managing directors was asked what he thought of some proposed store visuals.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” he reportedly replied. 'Just show me the data.'

More important, it seems, was the question of how the stores would function beneath their newly refreshed outward appearance.

For Mark Landini, the creative director of Sydney-based company Landini Associates who helped Aldi Australia reinvent itself, it’s not definitely just about design. His job is to come up with new store concepts that don’t just look good, but work well too.

And for a number of customers, including Aldi, Esselunga, Marks & Spencer and Loblaws, it is a strategy that seems to be working. Over the past three years, Landini has helped Aldi Australia to revamp all of its 650 stores.

Each store now has an eye-catching, unique look that incorporates work by local artists, but of at least equal importance has been the project’s emphasis on restoring a sense of joy to the shopping experience, with apparent great success.

“Design is often seen as purely decorative, as something they can apply to the skeleton of a business,” he explains in the latest episode of Fruitbox, Fruitnet’s series of conversations about the fresh produce industry.

“But we get in there before that skeleton is determined. We apply the decoration, but that is really only secondary to what we primarily do, which is to review how to make things work better, how to function better, and, in the case of fruit and vegetables, how to look better.”

For Landini, the way fruit and vegetables are displayed in supermarkets doesn’t always achieve the best possible result in terms of engaging customers. “Often they are covered up by facetious, thematic design that is completely unnecessary, very expensive and not very well lit,” he argues. We always start with the display and the lighting, then see what money we have left over. Not the other way around.”

Beyond the visual aspect and superficial experience, the functionality of supermarkets needs improvement, Landini says. “The thing that supermarkets have forgotten is that they started as markets,” he says. “They sell largely the same product and can therefore be exciting, chaotic, wonderful, noisy, shouty places.”

But in many cases, he suggests, they have become operationally led and largely sanitised. “They don’t make use of the valuable assets which they have. They need reinventing. Somebody needs to get the grown-ups in the room and have a jolly good talking to them to see if they can’t actually reach something which is a bit more sensible.”

During his conversation with Fruitnet’s Chris White, Landini goes on to discuss what supermarkets can do to improve their fruit and vegetable offer, as well as the more fundamental changes to the way we will shop for food in future.

Produced by Fruitnet Media International, Fruitboxis essential listening for everyone in the fresh produce industry.It now attracts a big audience across the global fruit and vegetable business that tunes in every week to hear exclusive interviews and expert analysis.

For more information about Landini Associates, visitwww.landiniassociates.com.

To find out how you can tell your story on Fruitbox, email:chris@fruitnet.com

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