Have the grocery wars just gone too far?

How much can something change before it loses what made it unique and special? We can’t help but ask that

How much can something change before it loses what made it unique and special?

We can’t help but ask that question looking at this new-look IGA.

The wholesaler has just taken a page from Coles’ and Woolworths’ book with the following massive redesign.


Their revamped store at the MLC Centre in Sydney is slick and contemporary, holding its own against its renovated competitors.

According to news.com.au, the new store promises in-house coffee-makers, a “gourmet cheese master” and even a perfume counter.

One thing is certain: this is not the IGA we know and love.

There are certainly some incredibly positive changes, such as a much bigger emphasis on fresh food. Up to 30% of the new store space will be dedicated to fresh produce.

The trendy new IGA also offers cafes, in-store dining and even a beauty section stocking the likes of Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.

With IGA’s 1455 stores all set to be refurbished in time – a move to help the struggling brand compete in an increasingly fierce marketplace – it’s hard to imagine more stores will not follow in Sydney’s footsteps.

However, Ian Morrice, chief executive at IGA’s parent company Metcash, suggests this is simply catering to the needs of a specific area and type of shopper; other stores may keep their smaller independent charm.

“We’ve got the ability to support a lot of complexity, because our distribution business is about supporting individual businesses who all have different formats,” he said.

“That’s what differentiates us from Aldi and also from the other national competitions.

“That’s the future for IGA, continuing to innovate and to differentiate itself away from the fairly standardised operations of the national chains, which by definition get all their efficiency out of everything being the same and homogenous”.

Store owner Joseph Romeo said another three stores were set to follow, in addition to the introduction of IGA to Adelaide.

Is this new look charming, worrying, or a little bit of both? How much should IGA change before it stops being IGA?

  1. I don’t see a problem. Their ads say “how the locals want it” and these changes seem to fit with the location.

  2. What ever. Maybe I am boring but I shop where I do because it is closer to me. It would be ridiculous to drive across town. Where the shops are is more important

  3. Most IGAs I come across are in small country towns where the big supermarkets won’t go they are small and often quite expensive. When in the UK I loved many of their supermarkets; toilets near the front doors, rather than tucked away down the back if there are any at all, cafes too near the checkout, fresh produce labeled clearly with country of origin, more than just cooked chooks a real assortment of hot dishes.

  4. IGA’s are independently owned and each one presents itself in a way to best serve its local area. It would be stupid to have one that suits a western Queensland town in the middle of Sydney and vice versa. I have access to three IGA stores in nearby communities. Each has its own special feel and I am a regular customer at two of them, the third being a bit further away and a bit more expensive.

    • I agree. My local IGA is a bit ordinary and I don’t shop there. I had occasion to shop at an IGA near my physiotherapist in another suburb and it was quite different. The generics were the same but the shop had a completely different ‘feel’ to it and many items not carried local to me. Horses for courses.

    • I find there is adequate staff at IGA. I have never been more than third in a lineup. Their staff to shopper ratio is the best of all supermarkets.

    • Leone O’Sullivan I think that might depend on WHICH IGA you shop at. My local IGA has been: Jewel, Franklins, Fresco, Franklins and now IGA. The range of goods and quality of service has never changed over the 36 years I’ve shopped there (i.e. poor).

    • It seems to me that the quality of service etc comes from the top down. Each owner sets the example for staff and trains acordingly. If they haven’t worked that out, the store suffers.

  5. Bente Jobsz  

    Nice one, a free cup of coffee always goes down well, a kids play area should also be put in place and a place for me to sit and contemplating the high prices.

  6. I shop in our local IGA and do so becaue of the great staff and reasonable prices. This supermarket is the only one in our town and serves us very well. I sometimes stop in on Woolworths Kingaroy but find the store far too big with too many choices. I like things simple and easy which IGA provides. The little extra cost is no problem because if I travelled the 50klms to Woolworths I would spend that money on fuel.

  7. Elly  

    Sounds a lot like La Manna in Essendon Fields. Beautiful fresh Aussie produce, grocery items, an unbelievable range of cheeses and deli meats, fresh and packaged breads, butcher meats, chicken, fish etc. And an in house café serving great coffee and food. Always busy.

  8. Given the choice I would shop only for staples in the supermarket. As much as possible I like to buy fresh produce and meat from small retailers. Sometimes this may be a little more expensive but it is local produce and good reliable quality. Our local Woolies sometimes has produce that does not live up to their “fresh food people” claim. Also what has happened to our produce? When in Italy a few years ago I bought fresh fruit from a small stall near our B&B. It was delicious. Sweet juicy peaches, and huge strawberries bursting with flavour. Thanks to the supermarkets who demand produce that keeps we are foisted off with unripe tasteless fruit.

    • If there are streetsid stall, go for but for the vast majority living in the cities, this is y something you rarely see. Yes, the produce here is fresher than the supermarkets and greengrocers.

  9. I use the local IGA it maybe smaller than the big chain stores but it has a larger choice in meat and vegetables than coles or woolworths the staff are friendlier and the prices are the same or even cheaper than the big stores guess it could be lower overheads

  10. This type of marketing is more about you spending more than better service or products. They are using the psychological card. It has been well know that if you put a coffee store or cooked food near the front door your senses react and you will more likely to spend more on food and forget about what you really came in for. Companies like Coles are not interested in the quality of the goods on the shelf but more about you spending more just because their home brands are cheaper so you buy more of that product and when you go to check out you find that you have spent more than usual. Once you get home you find that the product that bought either tastes terrible and then you throw the rest out. What a waste. Majority of the home brand product are not made from Australian produced ingredients that now effect the Australian farmers, and manufactures. That then effect the countries economies and creates unemployment.
    Be aware of this. Ultimately it is your decision and as a consumer you have the last say. Use your own influence and don’t be part of the psychological game that they use on you. Think first it’s your money and use it wisely and not the way that they want to

  11. Our council moved mountains for a Woolworths supermarket expansion on the south side – even closing an access road for them to build over – but won’t even make entry and exit changes for IGA. Council built a whole road and put traffic lights on it for easy and safe entry and exit for Masters (WW owned) to build – but won’t even do traffic lights for easy and safe entry/exit for IGA. Makes me wonder if planning approval council staff have shares in Woolworths.

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