At the beginning of 2016 easyGroup, owners of budget airline easyJet, opened up their own version of a supermarket – easyFoodstore.
Its premise was simple – no expensive brands, just food honestly priced. 25 pence per item for everyday groceries and that was that.
So, to say that its doors shut less than 48 hours after they had opened up seems like somewhat of a damming indictment, but it was the opposite of that as they were unable to open for a third consecutive day due to selling out of stock completely.
The reaction had been massive, as people came in their droves to completely clear shelving of biscuits, beans and bran flakes.
And with the media whipped up into a frenzy over Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s latest great brainchild, the knockout blow had been delivered.
easyJet and easyFoodstore seemed like worlds apart – why was Stelios dabbling in what was seemingly foreign to him.
But that’s where this story takes a turn, because the Park Royal incarnation of easyFoodstores wasn’t the first, even if it was made out to be. In fact, the easyFoodstore brand dates as far back as 2013.
So forgive me for my ignorance when today I stumbled across an ‘easyLand’ located inside an ‘easyHotel.’
I was already aware of the easyHotel brand after staying in one in Basel in March last year, but that was just a few converted rooms in a quiet corner of town. Nothing loud, nothing out of the ordinary.
But that’s the difference here in Croydon, it isn’t subtle and it would be in your face if it weren’t for No. 1 Croydon overshadowing it.
easyHotel Croydon is housed in one of those horrible looking 1970s/1980s drab, dull office blocks. The type of place that used to be well used by businesses and businesspeople before whoever was in it before decided to upgrade to somewhere less ugly.
But that’s perfect for easyHotel, which provides no-frills accommodation and is essentially a grounded version of Ryanair.
The walls are white, the rooms are as basic as can be, but there’s always the loud easyJet orange visible from every nook, whether it’s the two easyBuses parked outside or a coat hanger on the wall – a splash of decadence in an otherwise boring ocean.
And in addition to being a hotel, it’s also a learning ground. Here, just across from the elevators used to access the rooms is a wall-hung board looking like the red carpet background to a cheap and cheerful version of the Academy Awards.
It’s here that a complete list of the easyGroup’s empire and the year of their founding is boldly displayed.
Need a flight? easyJet. Want to work out? easyGym. Need some Euros? easyCurrency. Hungry? easyPizza. The list goes on and you get the picture.
But the most intriguing part of it all is not on the wall, it’s actually to the left of reception – easyLand.
This is easyLand, where one can find bits, bobs and allsorts – all branded with one of the companies under the EasyJet umbrella, of course.
Much like easyFoodstore, easyLand is a shop where everything is 25p. The catch? The minimum transaction amount is £3.00, so you HAVE to buy 12 things if you really want to get your money’s worth.
From money banks to inflatable beach balls and car scrapers to pens, there’s a lot on offer and it seems quite reasonable.
Of course, I had a dabble. It would have been rude not to, and after a session of milling around and picking bits out of various piles I was left with my easyFitness bag full of easyGroup goodies – all for three of the Queen’s finest pounds.
The funny thing is, I’m still learning about easy, having just looked on their website and found that they operate a low-cost carrier in Africa, too. It seems as though they have an unlimited amount of strings to their bow.
So, the next time you see the orange tail of an easyJet flight or the bright façade of an easyGym, just remember how big easyGroup’s portfolio.
They have so much on offer, it literally takes the biscuit.