Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson\ Business Insider South Africa
  • Checkers has opened a new flagship store in the upmarket suburb of Constantia in Cape Town.
  • The store has been built brand new from the ground up, and features seamless floors that apparently reduce trolley noise.
  • Central to the new store's philosophy is to stock goods from relatively small, but well-known Cape Town and South African brands.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

* This article has been updated below.

This week, Checkers opened a new flagship store - this time in the upmarket suburb of Constantia. This is no store refresh, either - it’s been built brand new from the ground up for the Constantia Emporium shopping centre.

The store takes cues from Checkers’ FreshX outlets, which aim to take the upper end of the grocery market share away from Woolworths. But the battle between the two retailers is more obvious than ever at the Constantia Emporium. It’s a surprisingly small shopping centre - and aside from a handful of upmarket boutiques, like leather shops and jewellers, and a Clicks pharmacy, the only other anchor tenant is a Woolworths Food, located no more than 20 steps away.

Checkers doesn’t seem concerned about the proximity of their now arch rival, though. And given the amount of luxury food and drink packed into the relatively small 2,330m2 Constantia Emporium branch, they certainly can’t be accused of holding back.

The first thing you notice, are the floors.

According to Checkers, building the flagship store from the ground up allowed them to improve on other similar FreshX stores already in the country. They’ve made wider aisles, and used "seamless" floors, which have different colours depending on which section you’re in, and will apparently reduce the noise of trolleys.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson\ Business Insider South Africa

On entry, shoppers are shepherded into an expanded fresh food section, and directly into a decadent chocolate bar and cake stand.

Central to the new store’s philosophy is to stock goods from relatively small, but well-known (and loved) Cape Town and South African brands.

It serves “hand-crafted artisanal chocolates” made by My Sugar - a local chocolatier based in Sea Point, Cape Town. The chocolate offerings look more like miniature artworks, and almost too good to eat.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa
Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

And the cake counter offers creations from Cape Town-based Soet Cakes. They look unlike anything you’d usually expect to appear a Checkers cake stand - on launch day they featured a lavish vegan cake, and in future will apparently take custom cake orders too.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson\ Business Insider South Africa
Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson\Business Insider South Africa

Next to the sweet tooth stand is a tea bar and coffee station - where beans are roasted in store.

The new tea bar will offer the sale, and tastings, of an exclusive range created for the supermarket by Cooper & Flyn.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider

At the same counter is the now-familiar Checkers coffee offering - with a range of single origin coffee available to take home as beans, as well as a barista on hand to make you a cappuccino. 

A giant coffee roastery sits in the middle of this stand, which the store says will ensure you’re getting one of the best and freshest cups around.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

There’s also a temperature-controlled wine cellar selling very expensive wines.

The cellar stocks a wide range of wine from more than 100 estates. There’s also Prosecco imported from Italy, and authentic Champagne from France - including dozens of bottles of Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, the most expensive of which is selling for R750 per bottle.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

If you’re undecided on which fancy wine to pick, there’s also a tasting station in the back. You have the option to taste one of eight temperature-controlled high-end varietals from local and international estates via a contraption that does all the pouring for you. On offer at launch were wines from Iona, Steenberg, and Bouchard and Finlayson, among others.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

Checkers has upped the ante on fresh food to go

You’ll find an in-store Kauai, a sushi bar that serves such extravagances as Wild Pacific salmon caviar, and a brand new pizza oven in which a chef will stone bake you a hand-stretched pizza. Gone too are the days of budget Checkers pies, at least in Constantia - instead, there’s a selection of freshly baked Houw Hoek Pies, brought in from the famous Western Cape farm stall.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

But of all the fresh food offerings, the supermarket seems particularly excited about its brand new acquisition of an imported rodizio grill - on which they’ll be cooking meat and vegetables in-store for takeaway purposes.

If you prefer to cook for yourself, though, you’re also covered

Fruit, vegetables, and even eggs, are available for hand selection from open shelves. And plastic in the fruit and veg aisles are a thing of the past - with paper bags appearing in their place.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

There’s also pretty much every type of charcuterie you could wish for - including a whole leg of ham ready to be sliced up. And across the aisle is a futuristic looking butchery, where you can buy essentials like authentic wagyu beef, or ask the master butcher to cut you a slice or two of dry aged steak.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

The fishmonger also isn’t holding back - among a variety of fresh fish products in this department, you can also buy a tin of rather pricey abalone.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

In spite of all the meat, it’s a vegan heaven

If anything demonstrates how eager Checkers is to become the home of the Constantia local, or just tap into a growing trend, it’s the flagship store’s wide range of vegan and plant-based goods.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

There’s a selection of vegan cheese, plant-based cold cuts, vegetarian braai items, and a fridge packed to the maximum with Linda McCartney’s plant-based burgers and sausages.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa
Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/ Business Insider South Africa

You can also buy towels, and Smeg appliances

Like the refreshed Checkers stores you can purchase Smeg appliances at this flagship branch - including a kettle for R2,500. And if you’re in need of a towel, there’s a whole wall of various bath products to choose from.

Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/ Business Insider South Africa
Checkers, Cape Town
Andrew Thompson/Business Insider South Africa

* Update: This article originally referred to pre-purchased coupons for wine tasting. Tastings are, in fact, free.

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