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    Couche-Tard Menu Honored with Innovation Award

    Planet Retail 2008 Innovation Award winners include Couche-Tard's Menu and Walmart's Marketside concept.

    LONDON -- Planet Retail announced the winners of it’s 2008 Innovation Awards, now in its third year, which recognizes innovations in retailing and foodservice from around the world.

    With retailers and restaurant operators facing one of the toughest consumer markets in living memory, the judging panel—comprised of Planet Retail’s own global team of analysts—said this year’s innovations "reflect modifications to existing formats rather than totally new concepts which break the mould," according to the company.

    However, despite economic uncertainty, the judges noted many of retailers were playing to consumers’ heightened awareness of pricing and the impact of their actions on the environment through fun and creative promotional campaigns.

    Two winners from North America were Walmart’s Marketside for the Most Innovative New Concept in the supermarkets and neighborhood store category, and Alimentation Couche-Tard’s Menu store for the Most Innovative New Concept in the convenience/forecourt category.

    In September Walmart opened Marketside in Mesa, Ariz. The fresh food supermarket stocks up to 10,000 SKUs with a heavy emphasis on fresh, grab-and-go meals, bakery, hot soup, pizza and produce, including a strong selection of organics, the report stated. The store is a departure from the retailer’s discount centers, with an upscale color scheme and visual merchandising, according to Planet Retail.

    Couche-Tard’s latest convenience store concept trades traditional hot dogs and Twinkies with fresh items such as sushi, soups, fajitas, lasagna, Viennese pastries and espressos, the report stated. Stainless steel islands feature chilled drinks and ready-to-eat food items, while an instore food advisor ensures product freshness. The stores compete with local quick-service restaurants by emphasizing quality and convenience, and also price.

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