With a view to transforming railway stations into convivial hubs and enhancing the experience of travelers and visitors, SNCF Gares & Connexions has signed a 10-year contract with Areas for the development and management of 34 catering outlets at Paris Gare du Nord and seven major regional stations: Lille Europe, Valenciennes, Massy TGV, Versailles Chantier, Le Mans, Toulon and Bordeaux Belcier. The first points of sale are scheduled to open at end-2016.

Given trends in urbanization, demographic growth and increasing passenger flows, train stations are no longer considered as simple railroad assets; every day, we welcome some 10 million travelers in our stations. To meet this demanding challenge, we must provide access to basic services (cleanliness, safety, information, etc.) and enhance station thoroughfares by turning them into “urban villages” offering an increasingly wider range of everyday, practical, high quality stores and restaurants.

Travel catering specialist and key player in the railway station segment Areas is operating alongside SNCF Gares & Connexions to set up a revised railway-station format. With this in mind, Areas has built a unique catering and services offer focused on:

  • the every-day needs of travelers and visitors in the station,
  • a wide range of reputed brands and concepts created by well-known local and international personalities in the world of gastronomy,
  • the integration of digital systems designed to meet passenger needs and offering innovative services.

For Patrick Ropert, Managing Director of SNCF Gares & Connexions, “catering solutions are a priority for the 10 million clients we welcome every day and who account for one-third of our store sales in our railway stations. We have chosen Areas to help us step up our transformation since we believe that introducing innovative concepts at the regional and international levels is the best way of placing railway stations at the heart of urban neighborhoods.”

Alexandre de Palmas, Managing Director of the Northern European division of Areas, stated: ”We are extremely proud to be working alongside SNCF Gares & Connexions on this railway-station renovation project. We share the same ambition to ensure that these transport hubs are modern and convivial venues so that travelers can make the best of the time they spend waiting for their trains in a useful way and in a friendly environment. Our unique customized offer is in keeping with the latest consumer trends and designed to meet travelers’ needs.”

The railway-station catering offer: an innovative alliance blending well-known regional and international brands and exclusive design

Operating side-by-side, SNCF Gares & Connexions and Areas have developed an offer adapted to the different needs of visitors to, and travelers passing through the Paris Gare du Nord and French regional stations: urban commuters, business travelers and tourists. This cosmopolitan offer, underpinned by a wide range of brands and formats, features some of the most renowned names on the Parisian catering scene; key players symbolizing the culinary quality of this innovation, as well as top French, international and regional brands.

Customers in stations will be able to discover this unique catering experience when it is launched at the end of 2016.

In particular, the new railway-catering offer will feature a range of well-known international brands and innovative formats in keeping with the latest consumer trends:

  • The USA:  Factory and Co, a top brand offering traditional New York snacks (bagels, cheese cakes, muffins)
  • The UK:  Costa Coffee, Europe’s leading coffee shop
  • The Netherlands: La Place, one of the Dutch star caterers, with its tasty and colorful fresh-from-the-market format,
  • Italy: Big Mamma, offering gourmet home-cooked products,
  • Belgium: Exki, the reference for fast, fresh, casual, human and attentive catering,
  • France: PAUL, monop’daily, Carrefour City and Columbus Café,  all emblematic brands
  • France : l’Eclair de Génie,  Christophe Adam’s “so parisienne” gourmet bakery where everything “sells like hot cakes”
  • France: Le Bara, the “new-look foodie” concept set up by top caterer Thierry Breton in the Paris Gare du Nord district with 3 outlets in the Rue de Belzunce, and the Bigot delicatessen in the  Versailles-Chantiers railway station
  • France : Super Wild Coffee, a new coffee shop brand by Areas

Choose, order and savor!

Today, digital systems are a must when it comes to launching a dynamic offer and meeting travelers’ needs for efficient seamless services. Championed by the young Y and Z generations, digital marketing is already popular with all target customers and, as such, a lynchpin of the catering project designed by SNCF Gares & Connexions and Areas.

To enhance the station-catering experience, therefore, Areas has developed Wiiish, a smart application designed to access a wide range of innovative help services in just a few clicks: click & collect, a real-time directory app, and interactive loyalty system, with communication, information and feedback. For the first time, Wiiish provides unlimited “marketplace” access to a selection of concepts enabling travelers to place orders and have them delivered to the station.