grocer Denninger’s Foods of the World has opened the largest store in its 64-year history, a 23,000 sq.-ft. location in the Burlington Mall that includes a hot counter and a licensed eating establishment called Bitehaus Bistro.
Denninger’s fifth store occupies one corner of what was once a 120,000 sq.-ft. Target store. It sits directly across the street from its former Burlington home of more than 30 years.
The store represents a “big step forward” for the regional chain, says Patrick Denninger, a third-generation grocer whose grandfather Rudolf opened the first Denninger’s store in Hamilton in 1954, just one year after emigrating to Canada from Germany’s Black Forest region.
Patrick says Denninger’s core customer has traditionally been Europeans who emigrated to Canada after World War II, but the new store represents an ongoing effort by the company to broaden its appeal and attract younger customers, particularly young families with an appreciation for food.
The store reflects Denninger’s expertise in meat, with an extensive selection of sausages, salamis, etc. produced at Denninger’s 60,000 sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Hamilton. The facility produces between 300-400 SKUs, ranging from 26 different soups to 25 to 30 types of sausages and casseroles.
The store also features a small (approximately 800 sq. ft.) produce department, while Denninger’s has also partnered with Kitchener-based seafood supplier Caudle’s Catch Seafood to launch its first fresh seafood counter.
“ want to get all of their items in one spot,” explains Denninger of the decision to add seafood. “We’re not going to start selling toothpaste and toilet paper, but we want to be a one-stop food destination where if you’re having some friends over for dinner you know you can come to Denninger’s and get everything you need.”
While the meat and seafood departments account for about 40% of the store’s footprint, Denninger’s also boasts a sizable bakery department and its centre aisles feature a well-curated selection of products that reflect its European heritage, particularly in items such as spreads and chocolate.
“We’ve always been a destination store, with people coming to us from all over,” says Denninger, who says that customers come to its stores from Kitchener and Toronto and as far afield as Buffalo, particularly around special occasions like Christmas.
“We’re trying to increase the frequency with which our customers come, not just for special occasions,” he adds. “We want to be more of an everyday gourmet kind of store.”