Archive for July, 2011

Forever 21 opens first UK store

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

US fashion brand Forever 21 opened its flagship store in Oxford Street today, amid much excitement, Design Week reports.

Situated within the three-story, former HMV building, architect JT Nakaoka designed the store with help on visual merchandising, graphics, store displays and window designs from Esther Chang.

She is the daughter of Forever 21′s founders, Don and Jin Sook Chang.

The designs are based on those used in existing US branches, based on a pink colour palette which is aimed at attracting the young female consumer.

Project manager, Ross Holland, commented on the building’s design: “The concept for the store is set in stone form the US. We introduced a couple of extra rooms which they haven’t used before – the glacier room and the kaleidoscope room.

“We used a lot of ornate plaster work and timber, with stone walls and flooring. There are chandeliers and lots of decorative features.”

Expected to rival UK fashion brand, New Look, Forever 21 “is very quickly rising through the ranks of high street fashion chains,” according to Marketing Week.

The grand opening was well-received and due to a “quirk” in the building, people were left bottle-necked on the ground floor, but this is expected to ease off. 

A second UK branch is due to open in the Stratford Westfield shopping centre on September 13th.

Dover Street Market annual re-fit gets underway

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Mayfair’s chic creative retail space, the Dover Street Market, has closed its doors for three days as it undergoes its annual shop fitting.

According to a Financial Times report, the multilevel fashion retail store is littered with boxes, bubble wrap, ladders and display cabinets in preparation for the master overhaul.

The market, created by Rei Kawakubo of Japanese fashion label Comme des Garcons, is one of the most influential concept boutiques in the world and prides itself on its cutting edge displays.

“We probably lose about £100,000 over the three days,” revealed Adrian Joffe, president of Comme Des Garcons.

“But the commercial aspect is the second most important thing here. We’ve got to be viable, we’ve got to make money, yes, but what’s more important is creation and strength and newness,” he told the paper.

Kawakubo designed the Dover Street Market with the intention of it becoming “the place where fashion becomes fascinating,” according to As a result of which, the store feels more like a destination than a shop, and designers often reconfigure the shop displays themselves.

Stephen Jones is once such designer who explained why his “Barbie’s dressing table”-look was important for driving the sales of his hat store.

“It makes for a more charming, fun experience for the customer,” said Jones. “Hopefully, it brings a smile to their face and puts them in a hat-buying mood.”

Kawakubo’s ambitious market design space has received high-praise from interior design critics across the globe. There is now even a Dover Street Market in Tokyo, which opened in 2006, and is a smaller version of the London store.

Retailers keen to integrate reviews with displays

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Some retailers have shown an interest in integrating their customers’ online reviews into their in-house shop displays and visual merchandising.

One such retailer is Debenhams; whose online trading director, Simon Forster, spoke to He explained the inspiration behind the brand’s decision.

Forster said that after realising customers were becoming more reliant on reviews, Debenhams pro-actively reached out to them and asked them if they wanted to leave feedback. This has proven very popular, he added.

“We’ve now have 90,000 reviews which demonstrates that people are really engaged and do want to give their opinion,” Forster revealed.

“Anyone who buys something on the site, after they have had the item for a few weeks we ask them if they want to review it. We also find that the customers who shop in-store increasingly also shop online, so there is an opportunity for them to give online reviews.”

It is this cross-over that encouraged Debenhams to find a way in which to combine its shop displays with its online reviews.

Seeing positive reviews from fellow consumers whilst wandering around the department store might well encourage more consumers to make a purchase – particularly as confirmed that “positive reviews are almost as important as price” when it comes to buying something.

Big Society could fill empty shops

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

A government minister has praised volunteers in Surrey who have opened up their own ‘pop-up shop’, and has called for other vacant shops to be occupied by the community.

Greg Clark, the decentralisation minister, congratulated the new shop owners – who intend to run a university workshop at the premises in the St Nicholas Shopping Centre, Sutton.

Clark, a Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, was visiting to mark the first year anniversary of the Big Society, which aims to “take power away from politicians and give it to people.”

If councils embrace the ideology, minister believe it is possible that more of Britain’s ailing high-street shops could open their doors; letting volunteer and community groups manage their shopfittings.

Speaking on the success of The U – A Citizen’s University shop, which offers life skills, Clark said: “On its first anniversary, we can see that the Big Society is clearly working.

“The reason we were keen to support the vanguard communities, if they did work, other councils could copy it. With The U, I hope other councils copy it.

“The model of trying something new for the council to try things that they can do locally, it’s an important message,” he added, according to a report.

The model seems to already be catching on around the country, as the confirmed that in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, there are now only two or three shops unoccupied rather than 16 – thanks to a similar scheme.

“It would be good to encourage landlords of empty premises to implement pop-up shops instead of them standing empty. I think there is scope for something like this here,” commented Lutterworth town clerk Hannah Perkins.

Digital signage worth £2.8bn by 2016

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Digital signage for shop signs, media players and advertising displays is to become a staggering £2.8 billion worldwide market by 2016, ABI research claims.

Currently, it is worth only £800 million, the research firm added. 

“The digital signage industry has come a long way since its early days (of just a decade ago),” said the group, in its study - the ‘Digital Signage Market and Business Case Analysis 2010-2016′ on

It said that while it was used to be common for pre-recorded content to be displayed on screens, in future we can expect a much richer resource of media, thanks to technological advancements.

These include the arrival of broadband internet, digital displays, rich media assets, and network-based solutions.

“Digital signs have a more compelling impact than some forms of traditional media,” commented Larry Fisher, practice director of automotive, energy and emerging technologies at ABI Research.

As cited by, he continued: “Digital signage has redefined the model for out-of-home advertising through the deployment of signs at malls, airports, and banks, among others; signs that deliver content in real time, or content that has already been stored and scheduled for delivery at the most appropriate time.”

Fisher sees a future where displays could be controlled wirelessly by a mobile phone network which would allow a ”continual stream of fresh and relevant content,” as opposed to manually replacing old promotional materials.

If this idea comes to fruition, then digital advertisers would in theory be able to customise content to “the time of day or the demographics of the audience watching the screen,” Fisher said.

Retailers urged to prepare for Olympics

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Retailers in the West End of London are being urged to prepare for the Olympic Games if they want to share in the increased consumer spend that analysts predict.

A new economic study estimates that consumer spending is set to “soar by £750 million” during London’s 2012 Olympic Games, according to a new economic study cited by The Guardian.

Furthermore, research by Visa claims that expenditure is set to increase over the seven-week Olympics and Paralympic period by 18.5 per cent.

Consequently, local retailers are being encouraged to prepare for the games in order to capitalise on this rise – and this doesn’t just refer to branded shop display stands.

This is particularly important, as other research by Deloitte confirmed that 52 per cent of UK retailers have not made sufficient “preparations for the opportunities and challenges arising from the 2012 Games,” according to Retail Week.

A conference being held today by the New West End Company, the Heart of London Business Alliance and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games will help advise retailers on what they can do to get a piece of the Olympic action. 

Measures include lobbying together for a temporary lift on the restrictive Sunday trading hours, extending daily trading hours, ordering more stock in advance and “celebrate London through shop fit and visual merchandising.”

Commenting on the advice, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas – Chairman of the New West End Company – said: “The potential impact of the Olympic Games on West End sales remains unclear.

“However if businesses are prepared to adopt some of the measures we have established we could see an estimated £100 million sales boost to the area during the games.

School children become retail gurus in Dorset

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Sixty-five teenagers have successfully completed a challenge to manage their own shop in an innovative learning experience in Dorset.

Learning about everything from sales to shop fittings, pupils from schools and colleges across the region are reported to have loved every minute of playing manager throughout the two-week practical lesson.

Shops in Poole and Christchurch were chosen as the trial stores, according to a report. In some cases, the year 10 pupils put as much as £600 a day through the tills, bringing much delight to the City and Guilds Level 2 Retail students.

One such student was 15-year-old Macaulay Hemstalk, who said: ”I think it’s great.” He attends Ashdown Technology College, and his first task was to help clean up a vacant shop in Poole’s Kingland Crescent.

Students at the Poole store sold goods from the Beales product range, with items ranging from clothes to pocket-money toys.

Beales’ chief executive, Tony Brown – who opened the Poole shop – said: “We’re privileged to be working with these students. I hope the opportunity to put theory into practice will inspire them to consider the exciting world of retail as their first career choice.”

Meanwhile, pupils from the Twynham School and Ferndown Upper sold stock from Stewarts, Mountain Warehouse, Living 4 Less of Winton and Haskins at the Christchurch shop in Saxon Square.

“They are putting into practice all the things they have learnt in the classroom,” said Paula Brennan, a retail teacher at Ashdown Tech, cited by

“This gives them a sense of responsibility and is bringing out qualities we don’t see in class.”

Outdoor media spend to nearly double by 2020

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Advertisers will nearly double their spending on out of home media (OOH) by 2020, according to brand engagement agency Kinetic.

The group’s latest report “On the Threshold of Change – the Future of Out of Home Media,” predicts that the future of retail display advertising will be driven by digital technologies such as screens and smartphones.

Within the next 10 years, this kind of visual merchandising will account for £1.5 billion worth of advertising, up from £880 million in 2010, reports Marketing Week.

Kinetic believe that as much as 23 per cent of the total outdoor market could be dominated by digital screens with around 30 UK cities eventually becoming ‘networked’ together. This accounts for almost 110,000 screens in use throughout the country.

It is also anticipated that there will be an aggressive digital expansion for 6 sheets and bus shelters after 2015.

In general, advertising is to become more social, suggests the report, with more marketing campaigns that will interact with customers on a personal level through their mobile and Near Field Communication (NFC) devices.

James Copley, COO UK at Kinetic Worldwide speculates that “rather than being a disruptive force, digital technology will create enormous opportunities for out of home media.”

“What is clear is that rather than just replacing static sites, digital posters will enable out of home media to offer advertisers both reach and more direct engagement,” he said according to

“The potential to fuse digital posters with mobile interaction also has great potential. It’s up to our industry to grasp these challenges and opportunities.”

Kinetic consulted 20 media and advertising specialists alongside industry data and consumer research over a six month period to compile their report.

Mars to launch M&M’s “retailtainment” store in London

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A 35,000ft M&M’s confectionery store due to launch this week comes with one strange and unique feature: a giant chocolate wall.

The M&M’s World Store will change the way we think about the traditional retail display by mixing a shopping experience with a tourist attraction, according to

The chocolate and peanut sweets are owned by the major US corporation Mars, who are injecting a cool £10 million into the store’s Leicester Square opening in London this Wednesday.

The UK M&M’s store is thought to be a test case for openings in other large European cities. It is the first shop to be opened by Mars outside of the United States.

The store will sell chocolate as well as M&M-branded goods including clothing, kitchenware, bedding, jewellery and glassware, according to

It will house a chocolate wall, a 1963 double-decker bus, and giant interactive screens. An M&M tiered chandelier will back on to a custom-made Union flag, made of M&M’s.

Susan Saideman, president of Mars Retail Group, believes that “retailtainment” – where leading brands use their flagship stores as tourist attractions as well as shops – has shown positive results in the States; despite the recession.

“We have a great experience that goes beyond the merchandise. We help people smile whatever the economy is doing,” she said, referring to a particular US store that features a theatre and several 7ft greeting statues of M&M’s characters.

Pop-up shops could “save the high street”

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Cautious retailers worried about their faring on the high street could consider opening up pop-up shops in a bid to boost sales, suggests a retail software specialist.

Scott Storey, managing director of CTS Retail, told the Retail Gazette that this type of retail display does not only have to be used at Christmas-time.

He insists that it is a great way of allowing businesses to trial new locations, products and designs without the need for a large investment. ”Pop-up shops are different, exciting and can be an extremely great way of trialling market demand before committing to full-blown store rollout,” Storey explained.

“The volatile nature of the high street means that there are many opportunities to gain further presence which may seem too good to miss out on.”

Many well-known retailers such as Jane Norman, T J Hughes and Habitat were cited as being businesses spiraling into demise, with HMV and Carpet Right teetering closely behind with poor trading figures.

However, Storey has little sympathy for failing marketeers: “The reality is that the previous retailer who occupied that position failed for a reason, and it may not be purely due to the brand itself, or poor management of the business.”

Storey’s suggestions could well be taken up by retailers as the Mail Online reports that 10,000 retail jobs in total could face the axe as a result of failing brands. This includes the chocolate giant Thorntons which yesterday announced it would be selling off 120 stores within the next three – five years.