Heal’s London store gets a makeover

Heal’s is an iconic independent British furniture and furnishings brand. On 7 March the chain relaunched the flagship London store on Tottenham Court Road, after the main section was given a low-cost makeover to enhance new product lines.

The bed shop on the ground floor features themed areas from famous movies, whilst the charming bed and mattress selector area is based on the Three Little Bears to get customers in the mood for sleep.

Other areas in the store have a more specialist feel and departments have been moved and refurbished to suit their new product ranges. Both the home accessories and home fragrance areas are divided into branded specialist sections, whilst the legendary cookshop has been relaunched with focal points and improved shopping ease. The other floors, dedicated to home furnishings and interior design, also have much-improved layouts and themed areas.

This is a low cost VM makeover where the emphasis has been placed on new product displays and subtle but important changes to decoration. Impactful focal points and interior displays are areas where Heal’s has traditionally always been strong. For me, it is a successful example of the showstopping impact that VM can make, especially when budgets are tight.

Click here to see more pictures of the new-look Heal’s store.

November – Zara Home, Munich

I saw this latest Zara Home store whilst on a marketing trip to Munich, Germany, in October.

I have been a fan of Zara Home stores since the first opening in 2003. Building on the already successful store design and retail formula, this new outlet is an update of the original concept.

Zara have replaced some original features, such as the lilac coloured walls and dark ceilings with a lighter colour palette and more sophisticated finishes to refresh the look instore.

What impresses me about this concept is how as a ‘fashion chain’, Inditex, Zara’s parent company, has been able to rapidly develop and expand this concept outside of its traditional clothing offer. Essentially, it’s because they have a firm grip on their retail processes and delivery mechanisms, allowing them to move efficiently into new categories and markets.

In this, Zara succeeds where countless other retailers have failed over the years. It’s not because their ideas are necessarily any better than other companies’, but because of their recognition and attention to detail in perfecting its slick and successful operational model.

As such, new concepts can be neatly and quickly packaged up, replicated and exported. In business, it is not simply always the level of excellence within a brand concept or innovation – but the speed at which it is rolled out to market. Any kinks in the model can always be ironed out over time.

In Zara’s case, the sometimes disparagingly used phrase of ‘cookie cutter’ retail concepts is perfectly apt and exactly what it does best!

In this new version, Zara has updated the look and feel of the retail environment – making it reflect a more contemporary, ‘grown up’ and versatile look to widen brand appeal, achieving all this without having to change anything about its effective formula and brand delivery methods. It’s recognisable, but new at the same time.

It’s the type of project brief many of our own clients request help with, and an area that’s right up our street! Consistency is one of Visual Thinking’s middle names – along with innovation, development and capability… there’s an acronym in there somewhere, I’m sure.