The future of groceries

Source: Weekly.Shop

Two of the founding team of Nestlé-acquired, DTC petfood retailer are launching a circular online grocer.

Weekly.Shop supplies products in refillable containers, which it collects, washes and reuses.

On launch, the grocer will offer around 40% of a typical shopping basket, including fresh fruit & veg, dairy, bakery and personal care, as well as dried goods. As the service matures, it aims to offer around 80% of a typical basket, including meat and fish. The range strategy was “wide not deep” explained co-founder and CEO Paul Cooke, with “good category coverage but not millions of versions of the same product”.

“Usually this is attempted for just pasta and dried goods, a couple of different products, but we think we can do most stuff,” Cooke told The Grocer. “A new supermarket is how we pitch it. It’s a fundamentally different approach – we don’t think you need to sell 55,000 products, we think you need to sell the main stuff, source it as locally as you can and distribute it locally.”

Weekly.Shop has established a pilot site in Park Royal, west London, and will be couriering orders by electric vehicles to customers in the surrounding areas. More local hubs will be added over time.

“Each hub will have its own filling operation, its own cleaning operation and its own vehicles,” Cooke said.

The company prints product information directly on to containers, removing the ink and relabelling as part of the cleaning process so no glue, paper or plastic labels are used as part of a “hardline approach to no throwaway packaging”.

Customers will take out a regular delivery on a flexible subscription basis, and – unlike other attempts at circular grocery – won’t be charged a deposit for the reusable containers.

Cooke – who worked for a short period for circular grocery service Good Club, now Dizzee – said the difference with Weekly.Shop was its ambition to offer close to a complete grocery basket, and “trying to own all the steps” including delivery.

Previous circular supermarket attempts have mostly sold only ambient products and used third-party couriers for deliveries, Cooke explained – a “very expensive way” of operating.

1. Mark Holland (L) and Paul Cooke (R)

Source: Weekly.Shop

Weekly.Shop co-founders Mark Holland (l) and Paul Cooke

The startup has secured more than £350,000 in investment from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, Turquoise Capital and angel investors, including key early and senior individuals from the likes of Graze, Harry’s and Hello Fresh. It’s also a recipient of a UK Research & Innovation grant to fight plastic waste.

The service was “much-needed”, the company said, with Greenpeace research finding almost 40% of all plastic packaging waste came from grocery shopping, and only 12% of it ever recycled.

“We’d had enough of having to work really hard to make a difference, of being fed the nonsense lie that if we just recycle then it’s all OK and they can keep making stuff packaged in plastic,” Cooke said. “Big supermarkets are at best paying lip service to the climate crisis and will keep selling most of their stuff how they’ve always done because it’s too expensive for them to change. A refill here or a 94% less plastic there is great and it all helps, but really that’s just nibbling at the edges of the problem.

“Climate change is no longer a thing that’s coming, it’s a lived experience,” he added. “This is a real thing for people. The demand is there.”