Makro’s revamped Charlton depot is not your average cash and carry, says Siân Harrington

A range of fresh fish on ice to rival London’s Billingsgate Market and a cut and collect butchery are not usually to be found at a cash and carry outlet - but then Makro’s revamped Charlton depot is not your average cash and carry.
The Anchor & Hope Street store, located near London’s Greenwich Peninsula by the Thames, has been completely refurbished 30 years after it first opened its doors. And, just as has been seen within the major supermarket chains, the new focus is fresh.
General manager Falko Kroeger says it is Makro’s largest fresh food range in the UK and a “very professional assortment”.
In fact, the Metro-owned chain claims it stocks a greater number of fresh fish lines than Billingsgate. With lines such as octopus, squid, langoustine and monkfish cheeks sitting alongside the more common cod and mackerel, you can believe it.
But it’s not just the fish offer that has been overhauled. The store contains 102 new cheese SKUs presented on wooden slatted shelving to give a Continental feel, bringing the total cheese offer to 300 lines. There are 250 fresh fruit and vegetable lines, while a dedicated meat room, kept at a constant 0-2C, has been added to satisfy the needs of the professional caterer.
The non food offer has been sizeably increased and divided into shops-within-a-shop to encourage customers to walk around, rather than up and down, the aisles. For example, catering equipment and crockery has been pulled together to clearly communicate what Makro can offer the caterer - an important market for the company locally. Makro is also proud of its entertainment offering, featuring a display of plasma screens for the first time.
The size of the store, the largest Makro in the UK, has been increased by 5% to give a sales area of 11,285 sq m.
All sections have been revisited, with improved lighting and racking, a new entrance, more customer-friendly layout, a refurbished coffee shop and clearer signage.
There is also the first covered car park at a cash and carry, says managing director Philipp Dautzenberg. A trivial addition, one might think, but in reality a key improvement to customer service. After all, with our great British weather, Makro’s retail and catering customers tend to spend a lot of time packing goods into their cars and vans in the rain.
Better customer service is at the heart of the new offer and Dautzenberg says a major investment has gone into staff.
“We have dedicated and knowledgeable people in both food and non food and have recruited customer consultants to give our corner shop/convenience store and catering customers a better service,” he says.
There are six of these consultants and Makro has sought out specialists in categories such as wine, fish and meat. For example, the wine adviser has been recruited from Unwins to provide customers with one-to-one advice and information as well as tastings.
The wine cellar itself has been revamped, with product merchandised by country and a new £8-plus range located in the middle of the section on new wood-effect racking.
According to Dautzenberg, the depot is more than a mere refurbishment; rather it is a concept change showing Makro’s future vision. “It is the format we want to roll out to our other stores in the coming years,” he says.
With this in mind, the decision to choose local Charlton Athletic FC hero, manager Alan Curbishley, to open the store may prove to be apt. The club has shown its ability to survive and prosper despite tough times and last month it celebrated its centenary.
Then there is the fish connection. The origin of the club’s nickname, the Addicks, is believed to derive from haddock.
In 1908 local fishmonger Arthur Bryan helped underwrite the cost of establishing Charlton at The Valley and the club and its opposition used to dine on fish suppers after matches. If the team lost they would dine on the less popular cod, but if they won they would be treated to a haddock supper.
The team at Makro Charlton will be hoping for the victory supper - only, judging by the new fish offer, this time it could be smoked salmon and king prawns.