Global brands are constantly being challenged to innovate in order to extract maximum value from their retail assets. Increasingly they are using flagship stores as a highly visible and accessible statement of the brand identity. Where shop design was once about shifting product volume, flagship shops now have to do so much more. We have seen this manifest in the design briefs of brands such as Burberry, Microsoft, Asprey, Tiffany, Victoria’s Secret and Louis Vuitton. We have, and continue to deliver on some exciting challenges, especially in London’s West End where the buildings date back to the 19th Century.
Burberry’s need for a new flagship store on Regents Street called on Ramboll to create a single open space out of what was once four separate premises, all within a Grade II listed building. The spectacular result was sympathetic to the building’s history yet creating significant additional space by creating new openings in the load-bearing masonry structure feature. Louis Vuitton’s new flagship store on New Bond Street also meant merging two buildings at basement and three upper levels, all beneath five storeys of occupied offices. In each case the client got the awe-inspiring brand statement, while Ramboll provided the engineering expertise to convert the architects’ ideas into reality. Retail space is becoming an event, requiring the need to deliver transformational retail destinations. But it’s not just a trend saved for London’s West End, we’re seeing this in flagship stores in Sydney, Milan and Dubai.
Working on a pipeline of high value work representing over £300m of construction value, all to be delivered by the end of 2018, there’s a real feeling of dynamism in this sector. While it’s the iconic global brands that have spearheaded the trend, other sectors see the value of ground-breaking retail space. We’ve recently been partnering the Victoria & Albert museum to re-imagine their retail space, which now reflects more of a gallery.
With briefs coming from the world’s most image conscious technology companies and fashionable design houses, we’re thrilled to be working on briefs that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. There’s a real imperative to push the barriers of what is possible. Tomorrow’s stores have to be more creative, more challenging and they have to be newsworthy. Understanding these imperatives coupled with experience, imagination and technical nous, is enabling us to realise clients’ wildest dreams.
Our principle aim is always to identify and unlock the potential of space, so we can create inspiring and dynamic retail environments, repeatable across the world. This is a trend that is going to continue, keep your eye out on London’s Bond Street and Regents Street over the next six months. Six sites alone will be running simultaneously and will be well worth a visit, even if your wallet doesn’t quite allow you to walk out with anything off the shelves.