Walmart Brings Local (Curry) Flavor to U.K. Stores

Aug 23, 2011

It’s a common to walk into a big box store and find a McDonald’s, Starbucks or some other large foodservice banner with space inside. What’s not common is to find local restaurants cooking up dishes inside a national or regional chain store. That’s what makes the news that Walmart’s Asda business is setting up "curry counters" run by local Indian restaurants across England interesting.

The first counter, which opened at an Asda store in Birmingham in April, has seen sales triple in that time, according to reports by The Sunday Mirror and The counter is operated by Zouk, a restaurant based in Bradford.

"Our customers love the authenticity and quality of the range at Zouk, and with more and more families on a budget, but not wanting to sacrifice eating out, launching this new concept is a winner," Noor Ali, ethnic buyer, frozen, non food & concessions at Asda, told The Sunday Mirror.

Ms. Ali said the growing popularity of Indian dishes makes this move a no-brainer for the chain.

"We sell more than 3,000 ethnic products and Asian is by far the largest and most popular. Launching restaurant -­ managed curry counters in our stores and giving local businesses the opportunity to expand is a natural step for us," she said.

Asda has opened three other curry counters in stores since the April launch and plans dozens more across England, including locations in London. The counters planned for London will be operated by Chak89, which runs an award-winning curry house in Mitcham, Surrey, according to

Discussion Questions: On balance, do you think local restaurants would perform better or worse than national chains in leased space within big box stores? Are there any stores you’re familiar with in the U.S. that are already doing this successfully?

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2 Comments on "Walmart Brings Local (Curry) Flavor to U.K. Stores"

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Gene Detroyer
10 years 8 months ago

I am not familiar with the food culture in the U.K. However, the vast majority of the U.S. national fast food chains are the preference here.

The other day I was going to a meeting and walked past the Empire State Building. It is difficult to walk on that block because it is so packed with tourists, so I crossed the street and noticed a McDonald’s, then Burger King, then Wendy’s, then Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc…

Hey, this in New York City. There are some many interesting, ethnic, creative “fast food” alternatives. Why would anybody visiting go somewhere that they can find at home? The answer is simple. It is what the vast majority of Americans prefer.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 8 months ago

Standardization, cultural norms and customer sophistication; roll all these up together, and I don’t know that I would trust an average store manager to be able to guess his customer’s food preferences. As Gene noted, the stereotype of a big box customer meshes well with fast food … if they want to be “exotic,” they might consider Taco Bell.


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