Fast-casual dining hooks Scandi customers

Pink Fish fast-casual dining in Bergen

Pink Fish Bergen

On a recent visit to Norway we uncovered an exciting new fast-casual dining experience that’s quickly swimming upstream.

Thanks to the abundance of fish off their shores, Norwegians love to consume seafood. They’ve shared that love with the world by exporting no less than one million tons of farmed salmon in the last year.* Despite that, the inclusion of salmon and seafood dishes in the local quick-service food scene has been slow to appear, besides the overwhelming prevalence of sushi offerings in the country. When it comes to ordering salmon off the menu in Norway it has traditionally been baked or boiled and served with mashed potatoes. So it hasn’t really been a go-to dish for young diners on the move.

Enter Geir Skeie, Norwegian chef, restaurateur of the group of fine dining establishments Brygge 11, and winner of the 2009 Bocuse d’Or world cooking contest. Skeie observed that, despite its popularity, there was a gap in the market for offering salmon in a “convenient and flavourful” way to younger consumers. Like many chefs world over, he has recognised the potential to make more money selling tasty, cheaper food to the masses than by selling expensive fine dining to the elite. So, with his business partners he launched PINK FISH in Oslo twelve months ago, quickly rolling out three more stores and a fifth in Bergen over the past year.


Pink Fish fast-casual dining S&S

Pink Fish – Steen & Ström, Oslo

PINK FISH has all the hallmarks of an upmarket diner – think Australia’s Grill’d, LEON in the UK, or New York’s Dig Inn – but it focuses on only one protein, salmon. So perhaps it bears closer similarity to something like Nando’s. At its core though is a simplicity of offering and a healthy menu. Focused on a modest fifteen key items, grouped as Burgers, Salads and Wraps, Hot Pots and Raw (poké). A handful of sides/desserts and drinks are available to accompany the meals. Nothing on the menu is over 800 kilocalories, while many items are astonishingly less than 300 kcal. What’s more, achieving these low-calorie counts doesn’t come at the cost of flavour!

PINK FISH is reasonably priced for its positioning. Most dishes cost around 110 to 120 Norwegian krone, which when compared to the cost of a Big Mac at 49 kr, reflects the higher quality product and global standards for fast-casual dining.

It all adds up to a delicious alternative for Norway’s discerning young diners looking for a healthy, tasty and affordable substitute to the usual (and ubiquitous) burgers and sushi.

Signs show things are going swimmingly for PINK FISH, as next year will see two more outlets open in Norway and the first international branch at Singapore’s Changi airport in March. We think there’s a strong chance that very soon the rest of Europe, and maybe one day Australia and the US, might even land a PINK FISH of their own. Here’s hoping!



Adam Rafferty

Group Account Director

Whippet AUS

All things pink: Trending in Retail

Trending in retail: Pink


Being hyped as one of the most ubiquitous and versatile colours of the decade, pink continues to take the world by storm; the retail industry is no exception.

Since the sugary pastel shade of Rose Quartz received Pantone’s approving nod as Colour of the Year in 2016, various hues of pink have found their way into favour. Few industries have escaped the resurgent colour’s power to capture a customer’s attention. While a few of us were left wondering what the heck “Pale dogwood” actually was, one thing we knew for sure was that it was anything but “daggy”.

The soft and neutral undertones of millennial pink trending in retail are a far cry from the ultra-feminine Barbie pink that once upon a time cemented gender norms.


Acne Studios Hong Kong

Acne Studios Hong Kong



A strong design and merchandising trend, everyone’s finding a way to win from this strawberry milk-coloured moment. As brands amp up their retail-tainment and incorporate design features with the intention to be sharable on social media, pink has become a key colour trend.

It has repeatedly stalked the runway at fashion week and graced the covers of countless publications. On the food scene, entire restaurants have been devoted to it. Pantone dedicated a year to it. Drake dedicated a “Hotline Bling” to it. We’re wearing it, walking past it in shop windows; we’re even styling our homes with it. It’s no surprise then to see more and more of it in our retail outlets.  In fact, brought to life through rich textures like velvets, corded fabrics and lush upholstery, retail interiors are some of the most memorable and endearing.

So here it is. The future looks bright for colour lovers… Look at all that millennial pink…


Image Credit: Sketch

Image Credit: Sketch


Photo Credit: New York Post

Normann Copenhagen’s revamped flagship store

Normann Copenhagen’s revamped flagship store

The Daily Edited Flagship Store Melbourne

Photo cred: archilovers



Digital Lead

Whippet AUS

Amazon Australia – 6 months in. A storm in a teacup? Or the calm before the storm?

How did an online reseller with almost no visible physical footprint grow into the second most valuable company in the world? And now that Amazon has been operating in Australia for 6 months, how has it affected Aussie retail?

When Amazon first hit the web in 1995, Jeff Bezos hoped for it to become the biggest bookstore in the world. 23 years later, there’s not much that Amazon doesn’t sell – except for fresh food, hence its acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year. Some experts are predicting that Amazon will become the world’s first trillion-dollar company in the next 12 months.

Amazon became such a behemoth for a multitude of reasons – but the most important by far was its unrivalled focus on fulfilment. Since Amazon’s inception, customers have learned to trust that whatever they buy, they’ll soon have it in their hot little hands.

Jeff Bezos’ famous penchant for prioritising growth over profit has meant that prices on Amazon have traditionally been largely unbeatable, and when you combine excellent pricing with excellent fulfilment, it’s no wonder that Amazon now processes millions and millions of sales every day.

Amazon Australia’s launch in December last year drew criticism due to its smaller-than-expected inventory. But 6 months later, when you take a look at its inventory, it is enormous – and it’s only going to grow.

This item does not ship to Australia

These seven words were the bane of early adopting Aussies shopping on the US & UK Amazon sites. But on Amazon Australia, you won’t see those seven words anywhere, meaning no more frustration of finding the perfect item at an amazing price, only to be told you couldn’t have it.

As soon as Aussies become habituated – like Americans and Brits have – to purchasing almost anything they need from Amazon at a great price, and that it will be delivered to them at breakneck speed, that’s when things will really heat up.

Yet, immediately after launch, Aussie retailers seem rather unfazed. And for now, Amazon’s arrival has hardly upset the applecart. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in February this year Aussie retail sales rose by 0.6% to $24.45 billion in seasonally adjusted terms, doubling the median economist forecast that was looking for an increase of 0.3%. So for now, things are looking up – but for how long?

A quick search online shows me that I can buy the same inexpensive 4K Samsung TV from Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, Retravision,, and now, Amazon Australia.

Surprising? Not really. But how long until I can buy a can of branded tinned tomatoes from Amazon Australia? According to UBS’s 2018 supplier survey, almost half of Australia’s food and grocery suppliers are now in talks with Amazon – so I’m guessing it won’t be long. And how long until Amazon will automatically send me top-ups of items that I buy with regular frequency, like shampoo or toothpaste?

With Amazon’s almost trillion dollars behind them, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t be able to provide equally good (if not better) fulfilment than Woolworths or Coles online, so what can bricks-and-mortar retailers do to compete?

Let’s get physical 

Maybe retailers are unfazed because online shopping in Australia still represents less than 8% of total spend. But the taxi industry was sitting pretty for decades before it was ‘Ubered’ seemingly overnight.

To stand out and help keep Amazon from swallowing more and more market share, retailers must provide what Amazon cannot – an amazing, multi-sensory in-store experience.

As a customer, I want to squeeze my avocados to test if they’re ripe. I want to see my fresh fillet of salmon sitting on ice. I want to speak to the salesperson to see if they think I should get the bigger size of jeans. I want to lie down and test the comfort of a mattress before I take it home.

As retailers move toward self-checkouts, or even take a leaf from Amazon Go and do away with checkouts altogether, who will provide the human interaction in store? And without an amazing in-store experience, especially one with human interaction, why wouldn’t people just buy online?

The answer lies in turning every team member into a passionate, knowledgeable advocate of the goods they’re selling.

Last night I asked one of the service assistants at the deli in my local supermarket where the ham came from. They smiled and apologised for not knowing. Of course, I wasn’t expecting them to know. But with the juggernaut of Amazon Australia slowly waking up, they absolutely should.



Digital Lead

Whippet AUS

What else ticks Steve Stoner’s retail boxes?

Here’s part two in our two part series (part one here), where we speak to Whippet’s original founder in the UK and Principal Director to find out what ticks his retail boxes.

How many ways can you say SALE?
Infinite, but generally the most effective way of saying something is to use the language we were given. The word ‘SALE’ seems to do well enough for most retailers doesn’t it? I certainly know what to expect when I see it.

Coles is a key client for Whippet in Australia. What’s been you favourite project for them?
Probably the project that brought most satisfaction was changing the way fresh produce was presented through point-of-sale in back in 2010. We devised a graphic style nicknamed ‘Woodstock’ (pictured), drawing on influences from real food markets, that formed the basis for all campaigns for the next few years and can still be seen in stores today. Another key project was the creation of the ’Value Ring’, the red circle you see around all price points. That brought a low level consistency to the brand and a recognisable ’Colesness’ to every piece of promotional marketing across all channels. The early years of the Coles turnaround were exciting times, with client and agencies all pulling in the same direction and driving significant change. It’s great to see some of those original ideas still performing for the brand today and of course to still be there helping it grow further.


How can a store convey ‘quality’ and ‘value’?
A ‘quality’ feel can be conveyed through many touchpoints in the customer journey, from the fixtures and finishes of the store design itself to the graphic treatment of the point-of-sale. Staff interaction with customers is also vitally important. I think a store should be authentic to its brand rather than trying to portray a false sense of ‘quality’, but all retailers should alway strive to improve the customer experience whatever form that takes. A client once expressed concern that a design we had presented was too aspirational for their audience which I felt was rather insulting to the customer. Surely every customer deserves better? ‘Value’ is a tricky word and one which is often mistaken to mean ‘low price’. True customer perception of value is gained through a combination of shopping experience, the product itself and the price paid for it. Value is not simply about being the lowest price, it’s about having the most compelling combined offering.

What are your all-time top five retailer brands?
So many to choose from but notable names are…

IKEA for their ruthless efficiency, originality and continual design improvement, all delivered with a winning personality.

JOHN LEWIS (UK) for proudly championing a unique business structure and their understated tone of voice.

NEXT (UK) for shaking up perceptions of high street fashion in the eighties and for the beautifully designed, but clearly horribly expensive to print, Next Directory.

WALMART should be acknowledged for defining an all-in-one-store model that has influenced retailers around the world.

SELFRIDGES in London for simply being the best department store in the world (in my humble opinion). Expensive it often is, but it has never let me down and is always a voyage of wonder and discovery.

Steve Stoner is Whippet’s original founder in the UK and Principal Director. Over the past 25 years, he’s worked closely with some of the world’s best retailers like Coles, Tesco, Target and many more. 



Digital Lead

Whippet AUS

What ticks Steve Stoner’s retail boxes?


Whippet founder and Principal Director, Steve Stoner LOVES retail. What goes through his mind – someone the biggest names in retail have trusted for over 20 years for advice – when he’s doing his shopping? What excites him? What irks him?

In part one of a two part series, let’s find out from our self-confessed ‘retail nerd’ what ticks his retail boxes.

What do you look for when you walk into a store?

I’m a big believer in being led by your eyes so I just look around and see what I notice and in what order. The smartest retailers construct a pattern of behaviour in their communication and design that continually reminds you of where you are and steers you on a journey of their choosing. That doesn’t mean logos plastered everywhere or bold directional signage, it’s more about understanding how we as consumers shop and what our thought processes are. Product placement and density, material textures and finishes, floor plan and layout, plus the teams that run a store have as much a part to play as graphics, design and branding.

What excites you most about retail marketing?

The excitement that comes with a new design idea and imagining the potential it may have in helping our clients. I love relationships built on mutual trust and a genuine desire to improve a brand long term, beyond the time we may be working on it. I enjoy not knowing what’s around the corner. I’m very much a realist but that doesn’t stop me having dreams.

What frustrates you about it?

We have worked with some wonderful people that have been ruled by corporate politics and the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ in the eyes of their management. It’s prevented them from potentially achieving some great things and that’s a shame. Often, bold, innovative ideas are ignored in favour of tiny tweaks that make no difference. Sadly, sometimes people hide their real opinions and make very safe decisions rather than making decisions that might make them great.

What made you fall in love with retail design?

The realisation that even the smallest design idea we bring to a store environment can have a measurable effect and touch millions of customers. Even the design of a simple flappy ticket on a shelf edge should be considered and designed to work to the best effect.


Who’s doing it best right now?

There are many retailers out there with great ideas but few that consistently deliver across their entire store fleets. Cotton On are interesting because they focus on improving the customer store experience rather than spending a fortune on above-the-line advertising. Each store has it’s own identity but it’s clear who the brand is. Point-of-sale is clean and not overthought, but still has plenty of personality. A customer’s opinion of the brand is shaped by the experience of shopping there, not by advertising telling you how great it is. I’ve always been a fan of JB Hi Fi because they generate a ‘bargains to be discovered’ excitement with a look and feel that suggests they are closing down, however the consistency across their stores, in pricing, merchandising and personality is fantastic.

What’s one thing every store should do but doesn’t?

Have the right product in the right place at the right price. Plus, have friendly team members to help customers.

Steve Stoner is Whippet’s original founder in the UK and Principal Director. Over the past 25 years, he’s worked closely with some of the world’s best retailers like Coles, Tesco, Target and many more. 



Digital Lead

Whippet AUS

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