Supermarkets today are not unlike a maze of wonders – with several aisles containing 8-10 feet high shelves displaying an array of products that one wouldn’t even have thought existed. But while we conduct our weekend grocery shopping, scanning the shelves for our favourite products, a lot more that we are unaware of takes place in the service areas of the store. The cleaning staff gets ready to clean up any spills, etc., that are inevitably part of the supermarket experience. Philippe Peguilhan, Country Manager of Carrefour UAE at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, gives us a lowdown on the cleaning and maintenance practices followed in their supermarket chains.
Carrefour is one of the largest hypermarket and supermarket chains in the world. The brand was launched in the region in 1995 by Majid Al Futtaim, the exclusive franchisee to operate Carrefour in 37 countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In 1995, Carrefour opened its first hypermarket in City Centre Deira, Dubai, and through the years expanded to over 270 Carrefour stores in 15 countries across the region, serving over 750,000 customers a day. It operates different hypermarket and supermarket stores to meet the growing needs of its diversified customer base. The brand offers a choice of over 100,000 food and non-food products as well as thousands of household goods. This calls for ensuring that there is a level of cleanliness maintained in the retail space especially in the food storage areas.
Maintaining supermarkets is a challenge especially during peak hours or sale and festival season. Dust on shelves, stains on glass and metallic surfaces or cluttered entrances may turn away the customers and lead to negative impact on the reputation of the supermarket. Thus, maintaining the supermarket not only in terms of visible areas like the flooring, shelves or ceiling but the hidden areas like HVAC, odour control, mould free and disinfection is of utmost importance.
Carrefour executes two levels of cleaning practices, as per their standard procedure; there is an internal check after the supermarket is cleaned, followed by a periodic test that is conducted by an outsourced service provider who takes random samples of the surfaces, in each section, for lab analysis and shares any results that require action.
“We adopt the prerequisite programmes (PRPs) that are centred around standard hygiene procedures for cleaning and food safety. These ensure that the six main pillars of hygienic maintenance are in check, such being the premises and structure, transportation and storage, equipment, personal hygiene, sanitation and pest control, and recalls. We integrate international best practices by following HACCP and developing centralised food safety policies and guidelines in all our locations including stores, production facilities, distribution centres and our private label sectors. Furthermore, each store is provided with a food safety dashboard to continuously monitor and report on respective food safety status and activities,” informs Peguilhan.
In terms of the daily cleaning regime especially during peak hours, Peguilhan says the retail chain relies on both internal and external sources to ensure that every surface of their stores is cleaned thoroughly. “While we have an in-house team for daily cleaning purposes, we outsource work that requires heavy machinery and specialised tools to an external service provider who is responsible for deep cleaning throughout our stores.” The internal team regularly monitors and sanitises the receiving areas, from the cash counters all the way to the security gates daily, while the external service provider carries out deep surface cleaning on a monthly basis.
It is common knowledge that supermarkets have various sections and departments including the frozen zone, meat section, vegetable section, etc. Thus, there is a specialised cleaning regime required for surfaces like flooring, wooden/glass shelves and drainage cleaning, etc. “We use a variety of cleaning chemicals depending on the task at hand. For instance, we ensure that food placement surfaces are cleaned using food-grade chemicals,” explains Peguilhan. For the live food counters like the bakery or food stalls, the supermarket chain has implemented a strict framework for the food safety teams to follow that effectively helps them manage food safety risks. “We have a dedicated plan for our fresh food sections (meat, fish, produce) that covers all aspects of deep cleaning procedures in detail including the cleaning frequency, a cleaning schedule, when to clean, how to clean, who cleans, and who ensures that the work is done correctly.”
Further, Carrefour also conducts monthly training sessions spearheaded by the Carrefour UAE Head Office Quality & Safety team. These sessions are organised through videos, onsite workshops, and other learning tools that teach staff how to handle chemicals and equipment and when to use them in a certain area at a certain time. “We make sure that we only use market leading brands that are approved by UAE authorities and ensure that our external service providers do the same. This helps us maintain a high level of consistency throughout our stores,” adds Peguilhan.
Lastly, sharing his views on the eco-friendly practices adhered to while maintaining or cleaning at the store Peguilhan avers, “Sustainability is a key priority for our company as outlined in our strategy to become Net Positive by 2040; therefore, we take stringent measures to minimise food and plastic waste where possible. We’ve introduced several initiatives such as the green checkout counter reserved for customers with reusable bags and offer eco bags across all our stores and encourage customers to bring them along on every grocery trip.”