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Giacopazzis (exterior)

 Dan Brown, manager and Joanna Casonato, owner

Winner: Giacopazzi’s, Kinross

Innovation Award – supported by Jet

Interview with Dan Brown, manager and Joanna Casonato, owner (above).

Winner details

  • Staff: 13
  • Symbol: Nisa   
  • The Giacopazzi family first started trading in Scotland in 1910, opening an ice-cream parlour in Milnathort, near Kinross.
  • Manager Dan Brown grew up opposite the Milnathort store, where he worked full-time while also studying for a retail and marketing degree at the University of Stirling.
  • Before being asked by Joanna and Franck Casonato to come on board for the launch of Giacopazzi’s Kinross, Dan cut his retail management teeth working for Scotmid in Edinburgh, as well as working with Colin Smith at his Pinkie Farm store in Musselburgh.
  • Giacopazzi’s Kinross is a busy place at lunchtime, with 350 pupils from the nearby school swarming the store. Things could step up further as a 400 home housing development is currently underway nearby.

IF you’re going to be in business for any length of time then you’re going to need to innovate, and if you’re going to be in business for over 100 years, you’re going to have to get pretty good at it.

One look at retailing stalwart Giacopazzi’s new Kinross store is all it takes to see that whoever is behind the scenes of this venture is not afraid to move with the times.

As shop owners across the country get to grips with the changing retail environment, shifting away from ambient grocery towards fresh, chilled and food to go, Giacopazzi’s Kinross, which opened its doors in August of last year, stands as something of a concept-store for the future of retailing.

Wide aisles, walls of chillers and a truly massive food-to-go section are at the heart of the Giacopazzi’s offer, and the way in which this has been executed in this relatively new store impressed Scottish Grocer Awards 2017 judges enough to see it pick up the Innovation Award.

When the Giacopazzi’s team say authentic Italian pizza they mean it. Before the store opened, Dan Brown, Franck Casonato and Joseph Giacopazzi headed to Italy to train in a local pizzeria.

When the Giacopazzi’s team say authentic Italian pizza they mean it. Before the store opened, Dan Brown, Franck Casonato and Joseph Giacopazzi headed to Italy to train in a local pizzeria.

At Giacopazzi’s Kinross, food to go accounts for around half of revenues, a happy high-margin boon for the business, but also one that exists by design.

A large proportion of the store’s floor space has been given over to the food-to-go offer, which includes a range of sandwiches and paninis (all made on site by the Giocapazzi’s staff), a bakery counter with hot and cold pastries, a self-service coffee machine complete with Giacopazzi’s branding, home-made ice cream produced in Milnathort since the family set up shop in the town in 1910, and the pièce de résistance –an authentic Italian pizza oven.

The sheer scale of Giacopazzi’s food to go is impressive, as is the way in which it runs smoothly when 350 kids from the nearby school swarm the store at lunchtime.

But like any seemingly effortless execution, the team behind Giacopazzi’s Kinross put in plenty of ground work to get to where they are today.

Before planning permission had been granted for the site, store owners Joanna and Franck Casonato were already thinking about how to create a shop in the former health centre location with a quality offer to stand out from the crowd.

“A couple of years ago, well before we got planning permission we were thinking about this shop,” said Joanna.

“We went to the biggest ice-cream exhibition in Europe which is in Rimini, Italy, in January. The do a pizza exhibition at the same time and that’s where we went and found all the different companies. So there was a lot of investigation work going on well before we even walked into the building.”

As a business known for its Italian heritage, there’s no chance Joanna, Franck or store manager Dan Brown were going to offer anything less than the best from their pizza oven. That’s why, with Joanna eight months pregnant and running two stores in their absence, Franck, Dan and Joanna’s father, Joseph Giacopazzi, headed to Italy with pizza equipment specialist OEM to learn from the experts.

We want to do sides, potato wedges, crispy chicken, all of that.

“Firstly, we went to the OEM factory where they had ovens and a demo kitchen,” said Dan. “There they taught us how to prepare the dough and make the pizzas. Then on the second day we were put in a local pizzeria, which was a bit of a challenge because we were making pizzas for the public, for Italians who really know their pizza.”

Pleasing Italian punters with a pizza offer would be a daunting task for anyone, but once word got back to the Kinross community of the team’s adventures, the response on social media was huge, helping the store to hit the ground running.

The pizza has been a great asset for the store, and Dan said he has plans in the works to introduce a delivery service for both food to go and grocery, which has spurred him on to expand the FTG offer.

“One of the things I’m introducing at the moment is a Turbochef oven, that’s going to allow us to do a lot more,” he said.

“That’s to tie in with the plan to introduce deliveries. We want to do sides, potato wedges, crispy chicken, all of that, as well as expanding our food-to-go range.

“We’re also looking to do subs. I know a lot of people are kind of looking to get a Subway franchise but we want to do our own version, put our own spin on it and make something a bit different.”

Once it’s up and running, Dan’s new Turbochef oven, which uses three forms of heat, will be able to toast a sub sandwich in 30 seconds, which he reckons will open up a lot of avenues for experimentation.

The ice-cream offer too, a part of the Giacopazzi’s business that pre-dates the first world war, will shortly receive an update with plans to introduce milkshakes – a move Dan described as a “no brainer”.

Graham Clout, retail sales manager, JET, presents the Innovation Award to Dan Brown and the team from Giacopazzi’s, Sands House, Kinross. The store also scooped the Bakery Retailer of the Year award on the night.

Graham Clout, retail sales manager, JET, presents the Innovation Award to Dan Brown and the team from Giacopazzi’s, Sands House, Kinross. The store also scooped the Bakery Retailer of the Year award on the night.

And while all of these innovations in store certainly require a bit of spend, if the quality is right Dan reckons its more than worth it – highlighting that the Kinross store’s pizza equipment paid for itself in just three weeks of trading.

“I think the key part of all of it that I’m really trying to focus on is ensuring we’ve got the quality there,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of research into a lot of different companies and previously we’ve tried selling cheaper versions of things, but it’s more about the value customers are getting. Customers are happy to spend more if the quality they’re getting is there.”

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