Rwi sept2012[1]


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Rwi sept2012[1]

  1. 1. autumn 2012 RWI Meet the European business fusing design and shopfitting the full package sainsbury’s enters Tesco homeland MoThErcarE’s fledgling store format visual MErchandising in london and Paris
  2. 2. Store construction and shopfitting for the world’s leading brands Offices worldwide including: London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Moscow, Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Sydney T: +44 (0) 207 247 1717 | E: | Follow @ISGplc |
  3. 3. Rules of communication | Autumn 2012 | RWI 3 WELCOME Here are a few words put together that form complete sentences. All of the sentences are short and to the point and each sentence will follow on from the one that precedes it. There will also be a beginning, a middle and, gratifyingly, an end. Enough. Isn’t that what communication should be about and shouldn’t you be entitled to expect this to be the case for it to be worth reading? Well, yes. Yet when it comes to visual communication such simple rules are frequently overlooked and somehow, some retailers seem to think that multiple messaging in store or in windows is the best way of proceeding. This is simply wrong and, indeed, multiple messaging can lead to confusion and the best efforts of all concerned being pretty much a waste of time. In this issue of Retail Week Interiors we have taken time out to have a look at the better (and more visually literate) examples of visual merchandising as the new season gets under way with a scoot around London and Paris. Sainsbury’s has been busily localising its stores and the Hertford branch is a sterling example. Here the grocer has used the building itself to communicate the message. The branch is partly housed in a Victorian brewery and that is used to promote the idea of heritage and relevance to a specific town. There is also the matter of building and fitting out stores. Retail Week has been running a league table of the UK’s top shopfitters for almost a decade. We have now used this infor- mation to produce the first Retail Week Interiors report, which is now available at interiors2012. A special thank you goes to New Store Europe for making this report possible and to the many retailers, designers and shopfitters that have provided their comments and thoughts on all the issues raised. As with all things, however, the benefit of brevity is apparent. Sit back, therefore, look at the pictures, read the words and consider how effective or otherwise your interiors are at promoting the undoubted excellence of your products. There is almost always something that could be improved and presented in a better way. Sit back and consider how effective or otherwise your interiors are at promoting your product CONTENTS Retail Week Interiors Editor John Ryan Contributor Mark Faithfull Supplements and Special Projects Production Editor Tracey Gardner Art Editor Jon Hart Advertising Manager Paul Stewart (020 7728 3555) Commercial Director Mandy Cluskey Director of Retail Tracey Davies © Retail Week All material is strictly copyright and all rights were reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of Retail Week is strictly forbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine at the time of going to press, but we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of Retail Week. Retail Week Interiors is printed by Headley Brothers Ltd. Ashford, Kent John Ryan, Editor 04 SAINSBURY’S The supermarket’s new store is bidding to become a local hero – in Tesco’s backyard 10 STORE DESIGN We head to the Alps to visit Schweitzer, which combines design with shopfitting 17 HARRIS & HOOLE The Tesco-backed artisanal coffee shop is a curious mix of rustic style and industrial chic 21 MOTHERCARE Can a new-look flagship store in Edmonton help to revive the retailer’s fortunes? 27 LONDON WINDOWS The unpredictable weather is testing the talents of the capital’s visual merchandisers 33 PROFILE: HOTEL CHOCOLAT Angus Thirlwell has built the chocolatier into a thriving chain of shops and cafes 35 SHOPFITTERS LEAGUE Tracking the risers and fallers in this year’s top 10 of the nation’s shopfitting businesses 37 PARIS WINDOWS Here the visual merchandising is all about understated chic RWI Effective merchandising needs to be straightforward and simple, but often these basic requirements are overlooked
  4. 4. The arrival of Sainsbury’s in Hertford draws a line in the sand for the supermarket that wants to be “number one locally”. By John Ryan Sainsbury’s in Tescoland 4 RWI | Autumn 2012 | ertford is a historic town. By the time of the Domesday Book, it had three mills, two markets and two churches and was one of East Anglia’s (just) more impor- tant locations. And until recently it has been pretty much at the heart of Tesco country. Cheshunt and the supermarket’s head office are less than 10 miles away. Now things have changed, however, and instead of one large supermarket in Hertford, there are two. Sainsbury’s has opened a store at one end of the town centre – a suitable distance H from the Tesco shop, which was among the first to be given the ‘warming up’ treatment of lower units, wood and more graphics earlier this year. And given the amount of attention that has been focused on Tesco’s activities in the town, it might seem surprising that Sainsbury’s has deemed it a good idea to break ground in this part of the world. But it’s easy to understand why Sainsbury’s would have been tempted. On offer was a 19th-century building that had been derelict since local brewer McMullen had moved and created a “macro micro brewery”, as Sainsbury’s director of store design Damian Culkin puts it. “This is our first foray into Hertford,” he says. “The aim was to put some of the work we’ve been doing over the last year, starting with Portswood (Southampton), and to do something here.” He adds that the store is part of the grocer’s mission to be “number one locally” and certainly, arriving in the car park, the vista is almost bucolic.
  5. 5. | Autumn 2012 | RWI 5 Sainsbury’s has upped the graphics count and created a market feel This may be a modern supermarket, but the view is of trees, a river, a large park and a building with the kind of fancy brickwork that captains of industry liked to create to remind them of places such as Florence or Venice STORES
  6. 6. STORES 6 RWI | Autumn 2012 | Brewing heritage is remembered In-store graphics have a Hertford theme The store reflects local history It’s a conservation area and we weren’t allowed to do anything with the building itself Damian Culkin, Sainsbury’s This may be a modern supermarket, but the view is of trees, a river, a large green park and a building with the kind of fancy brickwork that captains of industry liked to create to remind them of places such as Florence or Venice. To the latter, Sainsbury’s has added a piece of what is now known as ‘vernacular architecture’, in a manner that fits with what was already there. ‘Welcome to Sainsbury’s Hertford’, which would be the normal retail modus operandi for those seeking to be ‘local’. Indeed, step into this 28,000 sq ft store and among the first things that are evident are line-drawn overhead graphics of houses and landmarks around the town. But it is not a visually busy interior. Culkin says “taking the clutter away and making it easier to navigate, as well as communicating value” has been one of the major pushes that Sainsbury’s has been engaged in when creating this interior. “This is first and foremost a fresh food store. We’ve not just done a smaller version of what we do everywhere else,” says Culkin. He adds that the store has a “more authentic market feel” and as progress is made past the fruit and veg department, a series of shop-in-shop counters are found along the back wall. Culkin observes that a panorama of this kind is not without its drawbacks. “It’s a conservation area and we weren’t allowed to do anything with the building itself,” he says. On a brisk trot round the whole of this new Sainsbury’s, Culkin points to the “hand-made” bricks, fashioned to comple- ment what was already there. Externally, this is an exercise in blending in. Culkin says McMullen is “quite a big deal locally – the brewer owns quite a lot of the town”. This has meant that, in order to fit in, a degree of fieldwork had to be undertaken. “We wandered round the town and found things that tell the story of Hertford,” he says. Local flavour The work has informed many of the graphics that mark this store out as being part of Hertford, instead of just putting a sign stating
  7. 7. We know that light makes the difference. As one of Europe’s leading retail lighting manufacturers we know that good lighting can assist with creating inspiring store interiors which attract customers and drive sales. Equally we know that the focus should be on your products, not ours and it is for this reason why Fagerhult have become the trusted lighting partner for a growing group of major UK retailers.
  8. 8. The shopper’s eye is taken from one side to the other, ensuring both sides of each aisle are viewed STORES 8 RWI | Autumn 2012 | Good use is made of the large windows Signage isn’t overbearing Graphics and layout catch the eye This is what Sainsbury’s might have looked like back in the day, well the counters anyway. Except that while there are still white-coated staff waiting to provide service, the new low-level counters allow customers to get up close and personal with the produce, which really is a theme imported from market retailing. Down the aisles This is a supermarket, however, and there still have to be long aisles to ensure that the requi- site number of SKUs can be given shelf space. And as in other supermarkets, there is a long central aisle that cuts across all of the others. At its end there is the bakery and patisserie counter, which has been given a white tile and fancy font treatment lending something of the feel you might get when entering a Viennese konditorei. The real purpose of this is to ensure that Glance down the aisles in this store and there is remarkably little point-of-sale material jutting out from the gondolas but, where there is, it almost alternates from side to side along their length. The idea is that the shopper’s eye is taken from one side to the other, ensuring both sides of each aisle are viewed. And so to the checkouts. Nothing terribly remarkable about them, but as almost every- where else in this store, there is a large amount of natural daylight, making standing in line less of a chore. It is worth remarking that on the midweek day of visiting, the car park was far from full. This was a pretty sharp contrast with the Tesco store where the constraint seemed to be how many cars could actually get in and park – but this is a much newer store and perhaps the good people of Hertford need a little time to get used to the idea that there is something other than a super- market whose name begins with a ‘T’. In terms of customer experience, and it is sometimes hard to use that word in association with visiting a supermarket, this really is quite pleasant. And if you’re from Hertford, the efforts that have been made to show something of the town in-store will be apparent. Even if you’re not, there is a lot to be said for taking a super- market environment and giving it a lift in terms of graphics and layout. This is a sympathetic treatment of a fine struc- ture and a good-looking supermarket to boot. the gaze is taken across the whole of the space and to maintain interest levels as the shopping journey continues. Culkin says research shows that any visitor to a supermarket tends to look at only one side of any aisle, meaning that “50% of the offer is delisted”.
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  10. 10. all things to all retailers Schweitzer employs 600 staff and will have sales of £90m for the year – up 25% on 2011 10 RWI | Autumn 2012 | The majority of shopfitters fit shops while the majority of shop designers design them. Northern Italian shopfitting giant Schweitzer does both. John Ryan reports he store design business in the UK is pretty straightforward if you’re a retailer and have the funds to create a new format. First, you’ll probably hold a beauty parade of design consultancies, present the brief and hope that at least one of them comes up with something you like the look of. Assuming that is the case, you’ll then work with the consultancy and either get them to choose a shopfitter or select one yourself and hand over the drawings. Then it’s a matter of standing back, exacting the requisite penalties for late delivery (should this occur) and hoping T that what results bears more than a passing resemblance to what first attracted you to the design consultancy. And that, give or take a few variations, is what characterises the UK store design and build sector. There are, however, a few exceptions to this series of generalisations and among them is Schweitzer. On the continent things are often different. Schweitzer is a shopfitter and also a design outfit, but the two parts are not separable in any meaningfulway.BasedinthepartoftheAlpswhere thebordersaysyoushouldbeinItaly,buteveryone around you speaks German, its headquarters are just outside the spa resort of Merano, or Meran if you are of a Teutonic disposition.
  11. 11. | Autumn 2012 | RWI 11 Turning on the style at Emporio Armani in Manchester Selgros in Eschborn, Germany Big fish – Eschborn’s Selgros The giant KaDeWe store in Berlin SHOPFITTING Nike store in Covent Garden sible for a business that employs 600 people, will have sales of about €110m (£90m) for the current year and will show an increase of close to 25% on 2011 when the final reckoning takes place. This kind of turnover puts Schweitzer, the company, in the big league as far as shopfitting is concerned. Argument for design The design arm is, for the most part, not in Naturns however, which is where most of the prototypingandheadofficefunctionsarehoused. Instead, it is located across the Alps in Zurich. This may seem odd but, at first glance, odder still is the fact that if you buy design services from the house of Schweitzer, you generally do so from Interstore. This is the name given to Schweitzer’s design company and if you want a complete store designed, or perhaps just a floor or two, look no further. The latter can actually be bigger than it sounds – currently the 16 people employed in the Zurich office have almost finished work on the third and fourth floors of KaDeWe, the massive department store in Berlin. The third floor has now opened and the fourth is scheduled to welcome its first customers With massive mountains all around the village of Naturns (Naturno for Italian speakers – the same rules apply), Schweitzer has an idyllic setting. This is not by chance. Schweitzer is a third-generation enterprise and is still run by the founding family, who come from Naturns. There is a reason for the company being where it is therefore, but for retailers visiting it must be hard not to feel as if they are on some form of working vacation. And at the head of the whole thing is the man whose surname hangs over the door: Bernhard Schweitzer. Schweitzer took the reins from his father in 1999 and today he is respon-
  12. 12. imminently. The point, however, is that KaDeWe is not just buying a design from Interstore. An integral part of the arrangement is that the department store will also use Schweitzer to provide fittings, fixtures and shopfitting. Interstore existed before Bernhard Schweitzer became boss, but it had languished and not been an essential element of the Schweitzer mix. Since 2000, however, one of the first things that Schweitzer did upon taking over control of the company was to ‘reawaken’ Interstore as an entity capable of opening doors that might traditionally have remained closed to a shopfitter. Interstore in Zurich is managed by another Bernhard, Heiden, and ‘Bennie’ comments: “Interstore means that I can speak today with a client at every level.” He is very clear about the relationship between Interstore and Schweitzer: “We sell Interstore first and then Schweitzer is coming in. We are not a design agency – we design and build.” Heiden says that as far as design is concerned, things are easier in the food business than in fashion because there is “a lot of technical stuff that we are well placed to deal with.” This may account, in some measure, for the relationship between Schweitzer and Waitrose, which has been ongoing for more than half a decade. Heiden says Interstore sits on the bespoke side of Schweitzer’s operations – which is broadly what has taken place with Waitrose. When the supermarket opened its Marylebone High Street store in 2008 it had a raft of new elements, including a ‘time of day’ food-to-go counter, circular wine fixtures and a market- style entrance with fruit in wicker baskets. Much of what was on view had been purpose-built for SHOPFITTING 12 RWI | Autumn 2012 | The cavernous Salzburg Spar elements that make them different from what has gone before and Schweitzer has been at the heart of this too. That relationship continues, but it is worth noting that as well as working with retailers on site-specific projects, Schweitzer also sits on the more usual side of the fence that sees equip- ment being manufactured and rolled out on a mass scale. It performs this service for players such as H&M and C&A, and the manufacturing takes place predominantly in Hungary where Schweitzer says operating costs are between 25% to 30% cheaper than in western Europe. As with Waitrose though, this kind of opera- tion is built on relationship and reliability. Schweitzer says at the start of a year, H&M will come to Naturns and discuss how much of the company’sroll-outmanufacturingcapacityitcan book. “We do 45 to 50 new stores per season,” he says. He adds that with mature relationships “we are not discussing 80 pages of a contract. We’re talking about what we can do next”. And with a pan-European client list that includes Nespresso, Burberry, Benetton, and Woolworths in Germany, this is an organisa- tion whose tendrils extend across a broad field. It is also a business that understands that success in shopfitting depends on rather more than fitting shops. Helpful to have a place in the Italian Alps to invite your clients to as well, of course. We are not a design agency – we design and build Bernhard Schweitzer A BROAD FIELD Schweitzer clients include: H&M, Waitrose, Spar, C&A, Nike, KaDeWe, Emporio Armani and Eschborn the location and the store proved an immediate success with the well-to-do locals. Roughly a year later, the food hall in John Lewis followed. This was along similar lines but was different and again, the Interstore and Schweitzer combination was central. A roll-out of stores has since taken place, but while many of the stores may look the same, there are always Meat display at Spar in Salzburg Checkouts at Salzburg Spar
  14. 14. Tesco may be backing ‘artisan’ coffee shop Harris & Hoole but the cafe has a very distinct identity of its own the art of the perfect coffee | Autumn 2012 | RWI 17 coffee shops obbies, F&F and Harris & Hoole stand as examples of Tesco providing backing for existing businesses, or creating entirely new formats where it might not be the first name that springs to mind. Coffee shop Harris & Hoole is the newest and might be described as an example of Tesco seed capital. The grocer has taken a minority stake in an enterprise that has ambitions to become a modest chain. Uxbridge is now open and Ruislip is next in line to welcome the Harris & Hoole ‘artisanal’ style of caffeine and cakes retailing. D It is Amersham on the Hill that has, since last month, been the first town to have a Tesco- backed coffee shop and, standing outside, there is no clue about the grocer’s involvement. This is probably just as well. Artisanal coffee and big corporate retail could make uncomfortable bedfellows but, even for those in the know, this is much better than any of the other coffee shops in the town. It is fair to remark that there is a Caffè Nero and a Little Waitrose not very far away –this is some way from being an average locality. Home-style chic across the board All the food is cooked on-site
  15. 15. coffee shops 18 RWI | Autumn 2012 | The cafe is deep and wide Harris & Hoole is the point where big retail and a local form of owner/manager-style shopkeeping meet Hidden spaces offer privacy Free wi-fi is on the menu That said, the majority of its neighbours are outposts of national chains and while Harris & Hoole has corporate backing, it has all the hallmarks of a small, idiosyncratic operation. All of the things you would expect of a contemporary coffee chain are, of course, in evidence with free wi-fi, calorific cakes and a wide array of coffee styles all on offer. But it is the curious mix of rustic style and industrial chic (principally in the shape of the long steel-topped counter) that mark this one out as something different. This is a deep and relatively wide shop – giving the interior a sense of space that is unusual in the highly formatted and cut-throat world of hot beverage retailing, where every square foot tends to be sweated. Then there is the mix of furniture. There is a brown leather Chesterfield sofa, like almost everywhere else, but this is mixed with wooden benches and window seats, small tables and aquamarine bentwood chairs, which banish the feel of a corporate roll-out. Bringing home the bacon There is also the black and white tiled kitchen at the back of the shop, reached by passing through a raw timber arch. All of the pastries, bacon muffins and suchlike are cooked here from scratch and on the day of visiting most customers seemed intent on tucking into something rather more substantial than a skinny latte or a single espresso. Harris & Hoole is something of a curiosity, therefore, being the point where big retail and a highly individual and local form of owner/ manager-style shopkeeping meet. The staff were enthusiastic and keen to offer the inevitable loyalty card to anyone purchasing a drink in this highly wrought interior. Given that your correspondent’s normal coffee drinking takes place some 27 miles south- east of this cafe, the proffered card seems likely to remain at the back of the wallet, but this is almost good enough (as is the countryside surrounding Amersham) to merit repeat visits, in spite of the distance.
  16. 16. Mothercare’s revamped UK flagship in north London is a beacon of sector best practice, but can it be replicated? Mothercare is born again | Autumn 2012 | RWI 21 stores n mid-July, Mothercare provided a trading update for the first quarter that hardly made uplifting reading. UK retail like-for-like sales had fallen 6.7% and while there had been growth in the interna- tional business, it was not of the scale that many analysts had been expecting. This was hardly news however. The retailer has seen its fortunes dwindling for close to 30 months and the period had also brought the high-profile departure of chief execu- I tive Ben Gordon and the appointment of his successor Simon Calver. Calver’s arrival has spawned an equally newsworthy event, the revamping of the UK flagship, just off the A406 in Edmonton, north London. This store nestles among an armada of out-of-town sheds including a Tesco Extra, an Ikea and a Wickes Extra (what is it about the word ‘Extra’?) among its near neighbours. At 30,000 sq ft, this is a moderately sized shed, but it is huge for a mother and baby retailer, and A colourful experience The mezzanine offers commanding views
  17. 17. stores 22 RWI | Autumn 2012 | Garments as graphics In spite of the area’s substantial size, there is no sense of being in an oversized space, or even a shed A Costa Coffee implant occupies one corner standing outside the store, it is hard not to be impressed by the size of the enterprise. The interior, designed by London-based consultancy CDW Partners, looks enormous, with a large ground floor and, towards the back, a floor-to-ceiling 2D rocket graphic surrounding the lift up to the mezzanine level. But it was this size prior to the makeover that was completed by the end of July and therefore if scale is important, then this has always been a leviathan. Future clues What matters about this branch is the fact that it is home to new elements and store design features that are intended to provide a clue about the future of the beleaguered chain. Looking to the right, it’s easy to spot the first of these as there is a full-size Costa Coffee implant. It is full can be used, according to a member of staff, for anything from baby massages to breast-feeding classes. Companies can hire the room and on the day of visiting, it was being used by mums (and dads) as a drop-in space and probably an alternative to sitting down in Costa, although the cafe was busy. The decision to locate the pushchair and pram department at the back of the store, underneath the mezzanine, is an obvious consequence of the category’s destination-like nature – you don’t enter Mothercare or any of its rivals and walk out with a pushchair by chance. This is actually a very large department and as well as using the rear wall to display the merchandise in a manner that is reminis- cent of a better-end bicycle shop, care has been of mothers, fathers and pushchairs, as those who have braved the North Circular take the weight off their feet after the rigours of the journey. But in truth, the cafe notwithstanding, there is something worth inspecting at almost every turn. The mid-shop of the ground floor is an island with a walkway encircling it and it contains nursery furniture. The overwhelming impression is white – whether it’s the furniture itself,orthesurroundsthatcreateminiroomsets. Many of the walls have been given a very light pastel wash to which graphics relating either to childcare or something about childhood have been applied. In total, in spite of the area’s substantial size, there is no sense of being in an oversized space, or even a shed, come to that. Equally, although the freestanding walls that give the central island its character are high, it is still possible to navigate the interior easily as the areas to the left and right of this are distinct and the mezzanine’s open balustrade permits views of the upper level. There are several other ground floor features that are likely to capture the gaze of visiting shoppers. ‘Mumspace’, is a discrete, wood-clad room at the rear right-hand side of the shop that
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  19. 19. STORES 24 RWI | Autumn 2012 | A sense of light and space predominates This branch is home to a series of design features that gives a clue about the future of the chain The family photography studio Lifts are framed by rocket graphics taken to allow sufficient walkway space to permit test-drives. Room for manoeuvre And so to the mezzanine that consists of a large, curving balcony with a deep space behind it. This is predominantly used to house toys, soft and otherwise, and is a complete remodelling of what was in place before. Large 3D graphics adorn the perimeter, acting as wayfinders and adding to the feeling of a kids’ kingdom for children accompanying their parents. There is also a library of kids’ books at one end of the floor and an outsize Wendy house at the other. Between the two, a photo studio means proud parents can have snaps taken of their offspring having a good time. As on the ground floor, the circulation space is generous – essential for a retailer where the proposition involves parents with pushchairs inspecting the stock and entirely possible in a shop of this scale. Which is perhaps the point. This is a very big shop when set against sector rivals such as Mamas & Papas, and has allowed Mothercare roomformanoeuvreintermsofvisualmerchan- dising and laying out the floor. Yet as broker Panmure Gordon, which retains a sell position A supplementary concern is therefore which features of this new-look store are likely to find their way into other branches? Putting a cafe into a shop takes up space and is generally not a real money-spinner for the host retailer, although it does serve as a crowd-pleaser and may prolong dwell times. Equally, the Mumspace room looks like a luxury that can only be afforded in out-of- town sheds where space is not an issue. Finally, there is the little matter of online. Shops that operate on this scale increasingly run the risk of being treated as showrooms rather than places in which to buy. This is a very good- looking store and there is a real sense of occasion on entering, but it is quite hard to see how many of the initiatives that have been put in place will be meaningfully exported to other locations. Simon Calver still has his work cut out. MOTHERCARE, EDMONTON Address Ravenside Retail Park, Angel Road, London N18 Size 30,000 sq ft Store interior design CDW Partners Store status UK flagship Reason for visiting A true destination shop on Mothercare shares (although it admits, in a note, to being very impressed by this store) points out, there are only about eight stores of sufficient magnitude in the retailer’s portfolio to ‘do an Edmonton’ on their interiors.
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  22. 22. Seasons to be cheerful? | Autumn 2012 | RWI 27 visual merchandising ain all summer long, sunshine the moment the calendar ticks over to autumn. The UK’s maddeningly unpredictable weather has been little help to fashion retailers trying to manage their merchan- dising into the autumn/winter season and the window displays in many of the West End’s stores reflect that uncertainty. While Desigual and Uniqlo decided to say it with flowers, even they chose a different seasonal palette of flora and fauna. Desigual encapsulated the dichotomy of twin objectives further with one of its windows dedicated to new fashion and the other to deep discounts on summer stock. R Few retailers had thrown themselves fully into the autumn season, no doubt reflecting the desire to sell down summer stock at optimum prices first and – in the case of some others – to hold on to the last vestiges of a summer of sport that has at least brought a feel-good factor to the country. The common ground in visual merchandising strategies comes from where the retailers have gone back to communicating their messages in words in their windows, whether that is a call to arms, a brand statement, shouting about deals, or story telling. On-window graphics dominated around the West End and communication has become direct, underlining the need to ensure the customer gets it. Clearly, recession is not a time to be too clever. Many windows have also become advertise- ments for the omnichannel nature of the retail offer – a strategy dripping in irony but effec- tively communicated by most, although few as overtly as Urban Outfitters, which left no channel unturned at its Oxford Street store. As multichannel has migrated to omnichannel, some analysts are speculating that for younger consumers the whole idea of channels is rapidly becoming arcane and that we might all be talking about plain old retailing again before long. Maybe someone should create a window about it. As the sunshine finally shone in the early autumn, London’s visual merchandisers were faced with the dilemma of whether windows should shift seasons or stock. Mark Faithfull looks at how they managed A tongue-in-cheek approach to its visual displays from Ben Sherman stood out among the autumn windows. Well at least the idea did, with a window- mounted control box inviting and apparently enabling shoppers to see one of the six selected clothing items spin slowly around, vending machine-style. It would have been even better if any of the buttons actually worked. Spanish fashion retailer Desigual clearly hedged its bets on Regent Street, bookmarking its rather tasteful floral doorway by displaying huge discounts in one window and its new season collection in the other. The messages may have covered all the bases but it was a confusing mix of new season confidence, summer flowers and end-of- season discounting. Underlining the current desire to communicate directly and clearly, one window of NikeTown, on the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street, was entirely dedicated to explaining the virtues of one of its sports shoes. This is an interestingly technical and understated approach from a brand better known for its swooshing Just Do It approach. NikeTown, Oxford/Regent Street Ben Sherman, Carnaby Street Desigual, Regent Street
  23. 23. 28 RWI | Autumn 2012 | visual merchandising Warehouse was one of the few retailers to commit fully to the autumn/winter season with a bit of bling, eschewing autumnal colours for some bright and bold visual merchandising props sat amid a selection from its new range. Although this was a different visual approach from most of its peers in the West End, the use of bold lettering again underpinned the common approach of clearly telling the story. Footwear retailer Dune also went for a confident autumn window, flagging its website and using tasteful on-window graphics to announce its new collection. One common element in many windows was the promotion of other retail channels, from mentions of the retailer’s own website to its presence on social networking platforms. Urban Outfitters was the loudest, shouting about its other facets through its window displays. In fairness, it would be tough to think of a retail chain better suited to Pinterest et al, so the enthusiasm is understandable. Meanwhile, fashion retailer Reiss used its ‘spirit of the city’ windows to start a story that it called on shoppers to investigate through its social networking channels. It is all very clever, although some will doubtless not bother. Gap also used window graphics to underpin its new collections and brand statements, but like Desigual there was a muddying of the waters, with mixed messages through heavy discounting promotions in some windows. Retailers do not want to risk sales by being too clever with their marketing and failing to communicate Baby and toddler equipment and clothing retailer Mamas & Papas took its tone from the clear communications delivered by many retailers, using one window to overtly advertise some of its in-store services and another to promote its latest deals. What is worth noting here is the simplicity and clarity of these messages. This suggests that retailers do not want to risk sales by being too clever with their marketing and failing to communicate their central messages to the customer. Mamas & Papas, Regent Street Reiss, Regent Street Urban Outfitters, Oxford Street Warehouse, Argyll Street
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  25. 25. 30 RWI | Autumn 2012 | visual merchandising Anthropologie moved its windows gently into autumn with a subtly leafy display. This was mirrored more overtly by Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo, which was one of the few retailers to pick up directly on autumn colours for its window displays, beckoning in the new season collections. Britain’s golden summer of sporting prowess was reflected in a number of displays with hints of patriotism around the West End. Olympics backer John Lewis unsurprisingly continued to wear the Union Jack on its sleeve, with updated graphics on some of Team GB’s Olympians adorning its windows. Even T-Mobile had a little dabble at patriotism with corporate-coloured bunting. Massimo Dutti added a tongue-in-cheek twist to its celebration of the Games, while Armani Exchange said it all quite simply but still managed to capture the patriotic spirit. And for something completely different, here’s the pop-up from Crocs, the plastic footwear brand, in the heart of East London’s Spitalfields Market. Designed by consultancy Triplar, this takes the brightly-coloured merchandise and suspends much of it from strings attached to the ceiling. It then adds a seasonal twist with large 3D letters on the floor spelling out the words rain and shine. Crocs pop-up, Spitalfields MarketMassimo Dutti, Oxford Street Anthropologie, Regent Street Armani Exchange, Regent Street
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  27. 27. Since the first Hotel Chocolat opened in 2004, it’s become a thriving chain of shops and cafes. We look at how design has aided its success Cometh the chocolate, cometh the man retailer that chooses a designer and then continues to work with that same designer from 2004 until the present day is surely unusual. Retailers usually tend to try out a few elements from a consultancy and then, when a change of direction or even format ‘evolution’ is perceived to be necessary, a new consultancy is hired to create difference. The outcome of this approach is that it is frequently difficult to discern a design thread that defines the brand. Indeed, the look of a store may be completely different to what it was a few years ago – thanks to a constant chopping and changing of design consultancy. Hotel Chocolat is an exception. Since its foundation as a bricks-and-mortar entity eight years ago not only has it stuck with designer Terry Moore but it is easy to see how it has evolved to its current store design format. “Terry’s part of the team now,” says Angus Thirlwell, Hotel Chocolat’s founder and chief executive. “Eight years ago, we wanted to create a store that would have the feel of a hotel lobby. Before us, chocolate tended to be sold in small shops in unmarked white boxes and you didn’t really know what you were getting. It’s a bit like treating customers as idiots. We knew we could do a lot better than that.” Successful strategy If results are anything to go by, Hotel Chocolat has done better. This sweet tooth empire now trades from stores, online, and via mail order. It even has its own cocoa estate and has opened cafes where customers can see cocoa beans being transformed into chocolate. Prices are certainly at the top end of the mid-market but, according to Thirlwell, as well as good chocolate, a visit to Hotel Chocolat entails being informed about product provenance and immersed in clever storytelling. “We work to bring chocolate alive in terms of look and colours,” he says. Underpinning much of the brand’s success and its appeal for customers is the appearance of its shops and the in-store environment. Hotel Chocolatisthatmuchoverusedterm–anexperi- ence. Whether you go into one of its branches on a high street or in a shopping mall, or head for the more elemental, rough-and-ready Rabot Estate shop-cum-cafe at London Bridge, you know where you are. The brand stands for an idea that has been developed over time. Sitting in the basement of the latest Hotel Chocolat spin-off, Roast & Conch – a cafe where cocoa-based hot drinks and food are served and chocolate is manufac- tured – Thirlwell is keen to show off his new products. After a cup of chilli hot chocolate and a tart with chocolate ganache (made on the premises), it is not hard to understand this organisation’s success. Attention to detail – whether it’s the in-store leaflets with beautiful photography, or the packaging that gives any of the Mayfair and Knightsbridge chocolate specialists a run for their money – is what this retailer is about. And the raffishly attired Thirlwell remains the high-profile face of the brand. “I eat chocolate every day,” he says. You have to guess, on the evidence of his elegantly waisted frame, that he just doesn’t eat too much of it. A Profile Cafe spin-off Roast + Conch Angus Thirlwell Eight years ago, we wanted to create a store that would have the feel of a hotel lobby | Autumn 2012 | RWI 33
  28. 28. Office/Factory Locations: United Kingdom Sweden USA Norway Germany Russia Denmark Latvia Belgium Poland Lithuania Czech Republic Netherlands Ukraine Hungary Estonia China Ireland Swallowdale Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Tel: 01442 419419 email: At ITAB we create exceptional space for leading retailers. We add value by combining in-house production with quality shop-fitting. ITAB deliver committed service and inspired design as standard. Shop-fitting • Self scan • Display fixtures • Checkouts • Joinery • Pharmacy • Modular shelving • Principal Contractor Improving the Shop Experience
  29. 29. Consolidation and sub-contracting are some of the main themes in this year’s Top Shopfitters League table Mergers reap rewards he top 10 of this year’s Top Shopfitters League table contains a few surprises. In pole position is Overbury, a shopfitter that has grown by acquisition since merging Vivid Interiors into its portfolio over the past 12 months. And like a number of other companies in the table, consolidation is a recur- ring theme that appears to be characterising the shopfitting sector. There are, however, plenty of hardy stalwarts such as Styles & Wood, Wates and Morris & Spottiswood that are continuing to make their presence felt in the market. For some, their position in the table can be ascribed to one client and in a few instances almost to one project. The Simons Group is a good example of this. Appearing in fifth place in the table, the shopfitter has been responsible for the construc- tion of Marks & Spencer’s recently opened 151,000 sq ft Cheshire Oaks store. The scale and intricacy of this project would be sufficient to support several shopfitters in the lower reaches of the table for a number of years, and this will certainly have contributed to keeping the shopfitter buoyant over the past 12 months. There is also the phenomenon of big shopfit- ters employing smaller ones – which a number of the companies occupying the top places in the table seem to be doing. This has been the modus operandi at Styles & Wood and, to an extent, ISG for some years and there has always been discussion about whether the label shopfitter can realistically be applied to this kind of operation. This, however, is broadly a discussion confined T to those working within the sector, as retailers will probably care little about the make-up of a company that equips its stores as long as the job is done for an appropriate price. This is just a snapshot of both the Top Shopfitters League table and the accompanying analysis. There are more than 40 players in the table this year. For more detailed information from the league, please visit: www.retail-week. com/interiors2012. On the website, you can also see The Retail Week Interiors Report 2012 with articles covering store design, the retailers that commission these projects and those who turn these plans into tangible reality, plus closer scrutiny of individual projects. This report will now be produced annually and will provide an overview of what happens when a retailer decides it’s time to build a new store, or when an existing store is ready to be refurbished. The Shopfitters League table is, as ever, a document that charts the fluidity of a sector that continues to change. Next year will doubtless see further shifts in this area. Name YeareNd reveNue –latest fiNaNcial Year reveNue 2010 Profit 2011 Profit 2010 comPaNYcommeNts overburY(vivid iNteriorsmergediNto) dec-11 £396m £336m £11.1m £11.3m turnoverisincreasing,thoughmarginsaredecreasing. isg Jun-12 £300m £321m N/a N/a Whilemarginsremainchallenging,theindustryisinnovating andprovidingopportunitiesforforward-thinkingproviders. Watesretail dec-11 £141m £112m N/a N/a PartoflargerWatesgroup. stYles&Wood dec-11 £101m £99.1m £1.9m £1.1m simoNsgrouP mar-11 £99.88m £174.58m -£379,000 -£2.24m sdudleY&soNs aug-11 £92.32m £65.3m £283,526 £914,496 viNcicoNstructioNuK dec-11 £90.2m £78m £1.2m £1.3m morris&sPottisWood dec-11 £84.65m £84.68m £332,259 £309,523 retainedprofitabilitywithnildebtandastrongcashposition. itabuK dec-11 £79.3m £64.9m £1.51m £600,000 simPsoNs(YorK) dec-11 £73.49m £59.75m £1.96m £1.44m achievedcontinuedgrowthanddevelopmentthrough difficulttradingconditions. for more information ShopfitterS table For some, their position in the table can be ascribed to one client and almost to one project | Autumn 2012 | RWI 35
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  31. 31. The new season, paris style | Autumn 2012 | RWI 37 paris he advent of the autumn/winter season at the start of this month was greeted in Paris, as in London, by sustained sunshine. Unlike the UK capital however, there has been rather more sunshine than rain gener- ally in Paris this year and so, to an extent this was a continuation of what had gone before. That said, on both sides of the Channel, retailers have a perennial habit of hoping T against hope that they will shift outerwear in September, which has to be the triumph of hope over every kind of experience. At the beginning of this month therefore, Parisian shops were filled with mannequins wearing fleeces and heavy wool coats and there were even a few reindeer cut-outs in windows, presumably to get people in the mood. The bulk of those promenading the boulevards were, of course, clad in shorts and T-shirts with not an outer garment in sight. Unlike the UK, however, the new season was not another oppor- tunity to offer shoppers yet more promotions and most of what was on view was at full price. Perhaps UK retailers might take note – there is more to an appealing store than windows that shout that things which were one price are now at a lower price... While London’s retailers greet the new season with a wave of discounting, in Paris the value message is much more muted. John Ryan reports Department store Printemps has devoted its windows to Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, in which white dots on a red background (and vice versa) are mirrored by featureless bob-haircut figures clad in dresses of the same design. Nonetheless, if you want to see something dramatic, this is one of the most arresting series of windows in the city and is quite unlike anything that has been done before. Except that in London (and one suspects in other major Louis Vuitton outposts) Selfridges has devoted its windows to an almost identical version of what’s been done here. Given that both department stores are flagships and emblematic of the cities in which they are located, this is a little disappointing – particularly in view of the frequent traffic between the two. There are certain to be plenty of shoppers who will notice the similarities. Printemps, Boulevard Hausmann
  32. 32. 38 RWI | Autumn 2012 | PARIS Long gone from these shores, but very much up and running across mainland Europe, the windows fronting the C&A branch on the Rue de Rivoli have a stripped down, back-to- basics feel about them. This is a marked change from the sometimes over-fussy schemes that have characterised this retailer’s displays. For this season, it’s a matter of white, boxed-in windows with a monochrome mood photo as the backing, contrasting with the coloured autumnal stock that takes muted tones and then uses a single highlight colour. This is hardly original, but it works and was actually considerably better than many of the other mainstream players along this strip in central Paris where mid-market retail comes out to play. And, like Gap, this will have been rolled out to stores from Madrid to Moscow. The design crowd’s homewares fix rarely fails to deliver in terms of visual merchandising and Merci’s current display in the atrium, just inside the main entrance, is no exception. Dozens of coloured headphones have been suspended from the ceiling. It is linked with other display elements dotted around the store, including a mannequin sitting in a suspended bubble chair and a row of the headphones against a white wall. In fairness, while this looks interesting, it is not as original as might be supposed. A fashion retailer in Berlin’s modish Mitte district was doing exactly this at the beginning of 2011. In spite of it being a very small chain, ballet flats and shoe retailer Repetto manages to make this branch feel as if it is a one-off (although there is an identical scheme less than a mile away on the Rive Gauche). Think autumn and thoughts might turn to dark woods, long nights and wolves – well, maybe. And picking up on this Brothers Grimm theme, Repetto has created a ‘chaperon rouge’, aka Little Red Riding Hood, window in which the hapless victim is leered at by a pretty hungry-looking cartoon wolf. The crude nature of the 2D monochrome wolf contrasts with the 3D legless and headless bright red caped figure. What this actually has to do with shoes or selling them is probably anybody’s guess, yet it does serve to draw onlookers’ eyes towards this window rather than any of its neighbours. Repetto, Opèra C&A, Rue de Rivoli Merci, Boulevard Beaumarchais
  33. 33. 40 RWI | Autumn 2012 | paris When was the last time you noticed a store window in London that features a slogan across the glassline in French? There may be instances, but they are infrequent. Yet in spite of the well-documented Gallic aversion to creeping Anglo infringement on spoken French, there are plenty of windows in Paris right now that use English to promote a message. Nowhere is this more obviously the case than in Benetton, where shoppers are invited to inspect ‘the new Fall collection’ – which does sound like US rather than UK English and is odd coming from an Italian brand. And perhaps to add insult to injury, the background to this window features Big Ben, bathed in autumn sunshine. Objectively, this window is not a crowd-puller, but it does at least send a clearly unambiguous new season message. Benetton, Opera US retailer Baby Gap is one of the exceptions that proves the non-discounting rule in Paris at present. This window advertises the fact there is 30% off all jeans for very young children. It does so with a display that will doubtless have been created for use across the continent and which, owing to a simple backdrop and the use of balloons, will have been simple to install and roll out across the estate. The clothing on each of the small figures dangling from the inflatables is certainly autumnal, but greeting the new season with a money-off promotion shows that in spite of 2012 so far having been more benign for the San Francisco-headquartered retailer than the previous year, margins remain under pressure. Simplicity does have its appeal and, as a means of showing off brightly coloured garments, this is an effective vehicle. It is also worth noting that the 30% off denim promotion extends to the adult Gap, in a connected shop just around the corner – at least no discrimination is made on the grounds of age. Habitat has not gone the way of C&A in the UK – its presence in France is now much stronger than the three stores that remain in this country. In common with the UK organisa- tion however, reductions do seem to be the order of the day, with alternating windows in this long frontage showing full price and then reduced stock. Unlike other retailers on the Rue de Rivoli, Habitat makes strong play of message rather than merchandise to grab the gaze of passing shoppers, with large coloured pointers stating “Ça, c’est un bureau” (this is an office) and “Ça, c’est un reduction” (no translation needed). This is straightforward value-led stuff and was one of the most overtly promotional windows in the whole of the city on the midweek day of visiting. It captured attention, however, mainly because others were not overtly discounting. Baby Gap, Rue de Rivoli Habitat, off Rue de Rivoli
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