Counter Culture 1

To celebrate 20 years in business, we look ahead to the future of in-store performance.

To celebrate 20 years in business, we look ahead to the future of in-store performance.

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1<br />

<strong>Counter</strong><br />

<strong>Culture</strong><br />

shoptactics<br />

Shelf life<br />

Celebrating two decades of priceless<br />

support to global retailers and brands.<br />

Bland Consistency<br />

Complacency kills. Why positive<br />

change must start here, and start now.<br />

Fantasy Mall<br />

Our virtual shopping mall, filled with<br />

the retailers we love most.<br />

20 years of being…<br />

Change Makers<br />


1993<br />

1994<br />

1995<br />

Visual Thinking founded.<br />

Clarks open Clarks Village, the UK’s first outlet shopping centre.<br />

UK Sunday trading laws relaxed paving the way for 24-hour shopping culture.<br />

Defining Moments<br />

1993—Present<br />

Tesco announce launch of ‘Clubcard’ loyalty scheme.<br />

1996<br />

Starbucks launch first coffee shop in Asia.<br />

1997<br />

Arcadia created after Burton Group is demerged.<br />

1998<br />

Marks & Spencer become first UK retailer to record £1bn profit.<br />

Amazon launch in the UK.<br />

1999<br />

B&Q open in China.<br />

Wal-Mart enter the UK with acquisition of ASDA.<br />

2000<br />

C&A announce withdrawal from the UK.<br />

2001<br />

John Lewis launch online store: johnlewis.com<br />

Simply Food grocery concept opened by Marks & Spencer.<br />

Apple open their first store in the US.<br />

2002<br />

Arcadia, the UK’s second biggest fashion retailer, aquired by Sir Philip Green.<br />

2003<br />

Selfridges open flagship store in redeveloped Bull Ring, Birmingham.<br />

Black Friday becomes US retailing’s busiest shopping day of the year.<br />

Sears Group sell Selfridges & Co.<br />

Our Price closes; ending 30 years of high street music retailing.<br />

2004<br />

Apple opens its first European store on London’s Regent Street.<br />

2005<br />

Safeway grocery stores disappear from the UK.<br />

2006<br />

The Body Shop taken over by French cosmetic giant L’Oreal.<br />

Uniqlo withdraw from UK market before returning 5 years later.<br />

2007<br />

Tesco launch USA neighbourhood grocery store concept Fresh & Easy.<br />

2008<br />

Waitrose open first UK convenience store Little Waitrose in Nottingham.<br />

Woolworths UK collapses. One of the biggest recorded UK business failures.<br />

2009<br />

Topshop open first US store in New York.<br />

2010<br />

Zara open its first store in India.<br />

2011<br />

Abercrombie & Fitch open first flagship store in Southeast Asian flagship.<br />

2012<br />

Paul Smith announce ambitious plans to re-enter lucrative Chinese market.<br />

Burberry open ground-breaking multi-media store on London’s Regent Street.<br />

Wal-Mart celebrate 50th anniversary.<br />

2013<br />

Visual Thinking celebrate 20 years of retail performance improvement.<br />

Macy’s become first retailer to adopt Apple’s innovative iBeacon.<br />


Forward<br />

The retail landscape in 2014<br />

is unrecognisable from just a few short years<br />

ago. The way in which brands sell and people<br />

shop have changed dramatically. But while no<br />

one can deny there’s a revolution going on, the<br />

fact is we’ve been here before.<br />

Our work at Visual Thinking has always<br />

revolved around an appreciation that<br />

trends are cyclical. There’s no doubt that<br />

many retail brands have had their confidence<br />

dented by the recession. However,<br />

for the more perceptive players, the<br />

structural changes that are taking place<br />

in the sector present a once-in-a-generation<br />

opportunity for change.<br />

To drive genuine change, however,<br />

brands need to create a clear road map<br />

for the next stage in their journey. Just<br />

as importantly, they must also ensure<br />

that the reasons for change are fully understood<br />

and supported throughout the<br />

organisation, because even the best<br />

brand vision can become derailed by<br />

complacency and poor planning.<br />

For many businesses, 2014 promises<br />

to be a springboard to better times. But if<br />

they are to realise their full potential, experience<br />

shows us they must aim higher<br />

and demand more. This means facing up<br />

to the challenges of competitors and understanding<br />

consumer needs.<br />

Retail needs investment. It needs<br />

reinvention; new ways of thinking. It’s<br />

time to challenge traditional approaches<br />

and create an experience that is more<br />

in tune with what customers actually<br />

want, and to be relentless in the pursuit<br />

of excellence. By making stores easier<br />

and more enjoyable places in which to<br />

shop, it’s possible to achieve a quantifiable<br />

commercial advantage. But to make<br />

this happen, retailers must provide their<br />

people with the right support. This is<br />

where Visual Thinking comes in.<br />

In our experience, too much energy<br />

is wasted on worrying about threats to<br />

the established retail order while too little<br />

is placed on improving the customer<br />

experience. And this begins with effective<br />

brand delivery and visual merchandising.<br />

To drive real change, an expert<br />

impartial viewpoint can be an invaluable<br />

asset. We work with you to address the<br />

complex challenges that may be holding<br />

your business back and help you arrive<br />

at a practical strategy for growth.<br />

At the heart of our work is the principle<br />

that every member of a retail team<br />

is first and foremost a shopper and, as<br />

such, results are best achieved by ‘thinking<br />

like a customer®’. For more than 20<br />

years, it’s this unique approach that has<br />

led the world’s major brands to regard us<br />

as the go-to retail consultancy – and it’s a<br />

fact we’re very proud of.<br />

Over the following pages, we’ve handpicked<br />

what we consider to be some of<br />

the most important topics and examples<br />

of VM and retail excellence from around<br />

the world. Thought-provoking and insightful,<br />

they demonstrate our belief<br />

in retail’s ability to constantly reinvent<br />

itself and re-engage with its customers<br />

- the brands, the places and the people<br />

that inspire us to succeed and make us<br />

passionate about what we do.<br />

The future is within. Enjoy the read.<br />

Karl McKeever<br />

Brand Director<br />

Retail needs<br />

investment.<br />

It needs<br />

reinvention,<br />

new ways<br />

of thinking.<br />

This is where<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

comes in.<br />

Life moves in circles, never in a straight line — George Davies, Britain’s outfitter

Czech Out<br />

Area<br />

General retailers<br />

16 ~ 00<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

by the Numbers<br />

Fashion brands<br />

54 ~ 00<br />

Over the years we’ve helped<br />

hundreds of retailers and trained thousands of their<br />

people. Countless sectors, endless countries and many<br />

languages – supporting improvements in<br />

brand delivery wherever we go.<br />

Prague is fast establishing itself as<br />

a major location for international<br />

retail brands. And Visual Thinking<br />

is at the heart of the action. Our<br />

European VM consultant Lukáš<br />

Šmíd considers the city’s evolution<br />

and vibrant new shopping scene.<br />

An important element in VT’s work is<br />

the array of emerging markets in which<br />

we operate. Retail expansion across<br />

Central Eastern Europe has seen our<br />

team of in-house VM consultants grow<br />

to include a permanent presence<br />

within the region, based in Prague. It’s<br />

a reflection of the significant changes<br />

that have taken place in the Czech<br />

Republic over the last 20 years, as well<br />

as the growing importance of developing<br />

commercial markets that are<br />

internationally recognised by VM and<br />

retail standards.<br />

The Czech Republic is central to<br />

Visual Thinking’s plans to expand<br />

further into Europe. Both were founded<br />

in 1993, and in our minds will always be<br />

linked with a sense of vibrant optimism.<br />

Few changes in the retail landscape<br />

have been as dramatic as those seen<br />

in Prague with the fall of the communist<br />

regime. Borders were thrown open and<br />

new opportunities were to be found<br />

everywhere. Take fashion retailer Pietro<br />

Filipi, which is now a major Czech<br />

brand; whereas in 1993 it was one of a<br />

handful of small entrepreneurial retailers<br />

that were just starting out.<br />

Prague today is a retail city for the<br />

21st century. Over the last 20 years,<br />

the Czech market has become a<br />

key destination for foreign retailers<br />

looking to expand their international<br />

store operations. In 2010, for example,<br />

the prestigious Palladium Centre in<br />

Prague became home to Tesco’s first<br />

standalone F&F store. Today, Marks &<br />

Spencer operates ten stores in Prague<br />

alone and many more across the<br />

region.<br />

Other international retailers have<br />

also arrived, providing home-grown<br />

Czech retailers with stiff competition,<br />

but also a valuable source of inspiration:<br />

the influence of Puma, Adidas<br />

and Reebok on brands such as Bat’a<br />

and Alpine Pro is clear; while retailers<br />

such as Zara and Gant have had a<br />

marked visual impact on Pietro Filipi<br />

and Blažek.<br />

This vibrant blend of heritage and<br />

innovation has already placed Czech<br />

retailers on a fast track to growth. Now,<br />

at the start of 2014, it’s entirely possible<br />

to believe that the country’s significance<br />

as a European retail powerhouse<br />

has also only just begun.<br />

To find out more about Lukáš<br />

and the other consultants in<br />

our team visit:<br />

visualthinking.co.uk/our-people<br />

People trained annually<br />

5,000<br />

Training days in Brazil<br />

12 ~ 00<br />

Personal Shopping<br />

Grocery retailers<br />

12 ~ 00<br />

Then — Twenty years ago segmenting your<br />

customer base was a relatively simple and<br />

logical exercise. Customer profiling would<br />

be based on generalised demographics built<br />

around nationally captured data. There was<br />

little or no individuality involved.<br />

Now — Shoppers today are much more individual<br />

in the way they live their lives, and<br />

this is reflected in their buying habits. Society<br />

has also seen some dramatic changes: more<br />

women working, more single parents, a larger<br />

gap between low and high earners. All of this<br />

makes it harder for brands to profile their customers:<br />

there is no longer any such thing as an<br />

‘average’ person. This makes it more vital than<br />

ever to invest in understanding your customer<br />

and tailoring your retail development to meet<br />

their needs.<br />

VM Projects in 2013<br />

27 ~ 00<br />

Electronics retailers<br />

7 ~ 00<br />

Then — Historically, the term ‘designer’ referred<br />

exclusively to high-end products, accessible<br />

only to the wealthy. Few top brands<br />

were available outside of the capital and they<br />

had little in common with mainstream high<br />

street stores.<br />

Now — Harvey Nichols took a risk in 1996<br />

when it opened its second store not in London,<br />

but in Leeds. Today, brands such as<br />

Zara, Topshop and Primark employ the same<br />

VM standards once reserved for premium<br />

luxury brands, and on a global scale. Many<br />

mainstream brands have also introduced top<br />

level ranges that are linked to designers and<br />

celebrities – think Designers at Debenhams,<br />

Stella McCartney at Gap Kids, or Gok Wan at<br />

Sainsbury’s.<br />

Automotive brands<br />

3 ~ 00<br />

Brands improved<br />


Taking Stock<br />

8 ~ 00<br />

Cosmetic brands<br />

Shelf Life —<br />

Two Decades of Retail<br />

Fashions come and go:<br />

clothes, music, cultural icons – all those musthave<br />

producs you wanted at the time, and then<br />

cringed at ever having owned. Yet while over<br />

the las twenty years we’ve seen momentous<br />

changes, shopping continues to inspire.<br />

Designer Democracy<br />

Then — Customers accepted that if a product<br />

wasn’t on display, it wasn’t available. And you<br />

certainly wouldn’t expect there to be any more<br />

to a range than was displayed instore, so you<br />

wouldn’t ask.<br />

Now — Today, ‘click and collect’ order points<br />

mean that shoppers benefit from up-to-theminute<br />

information on stock availability as well<br />

as having access to a wider choice of products<br />

beyond those stocked instore. Retailers<br />

also benefit from this technology, as it enables<br />

them to manage their stores more effectively<br />

and offer better customer service. However,<br />

high VM standards and trained staff remain<br />

vital to helping customers navigate product<br />

ranges, ensuring that the shopping experience<br />

is as easy and convenient as buying online.

Brave New World<br />

The way we shop is changing. High street stores no<br />

longer have a monopoly on our buying habits. New technologies mean we can<br />

shop anytime, anywhere. It’s great for shoppers, but it’s creating anxiety and<br />

even fear among some retailers.<br />

Scratch the surface and we discover that<br />

technology has not led to a revolution,<br />

but rather an evolution in retail. The<br />

delivery may be different, but fundamentally<br />

it’s the same as it always was.<br />

Brands may offer discounts in return<br />

for likes on Facebook or followers on<br />

Twitter, but essentially it’s just another<br />

way of promoting word of mouth. Mobile<br />

vouchers are a newer version of cut-out<br />

coupons. And is online shopping really<br />

so different from catalogue shopping?<br />

At Visual Thinking we ask our retail<br />

clients to ‘think like a customer®’, because<br />

nowadays their customers are<br />

just as likely to be retailers themselves<br />

- nearly 30 per cent of Chinese white collar<br />

workers have now opened their own<br />

shops online.<br />

Such changes mean that our view of<br />

what constitutes a fulfilling retail experience<br />

has also shifted. Today’s shoppers<br />

want to be participants, not just spectators,<br />

and the ‘feel good’ element is just as<br />

Connecting<br />

Shoppers<br />

From QR, Blippar and<br />

NFC to mobile marketing,<br />

interactive digital<br />

screens and virtual<br />

mirrors; we’ve created<br />

a profile of the latest in<br />

retail technology and<br />

how it’s bringing new<br />

life to our shopping<br />

experience in the<br />

unwired world...<br />

likely to be defined in terms of personal<br />

satisfaction as much as the ‘things’ we<br />

purchase. One example is the mail order<br />

industry. Many traditional mail order<br />

businesses have now moved online, but<br />

also newer and more targeted catalogues<br />

have emerged - such as Boden, Toast and<br />

Lands End - and all focus powerfully on<br />

selling a lifestyle image to inspire shoppers<br />

to buy.<br />

But while shoppers may soon be buying<br />

more with their phones than their<br />

feet, too many retailers are being blinded<br />

by the use of technology for technology’s<br />

sake, without fully understanding<br />

the role it plays in improving the customer<br />

experience. Technology really is just<br />

another way of delivering messages to<br />

shoppers.<br />

What does this mean for visual merchandising?<br />

The fact is, technology has<br />

made good VM more important than<br />

ever. It has made us more connected,<br />

more informed and, crucially, more<br />

Adidas NEO, Germany<br />

Adidas NEO takes window<br />

shopping to a new level with<br />

an interactive digital window<br />

concept that connects to<br />

smartphones. The technology<br />

allows shoppers to<br />

connect with the window and<br />

sync any item placed in its<br />

shopping bag with their mobile,<br />

ready to save, purchase<br />

or share.<br />

Technology has<br />

made us more<br />

connected,<br />

better informed<br />

and, crucially,<br />

more impatient.<br />

We expect<br />

to find what<br />

we want and<br />

we want it<br />

instantly.<br />

C&A, Brazil<br />

One of the key challenges<br />

facing the retail sector has<br />

been connecting effectively<br />

with social networks. Then<br />

along came Facebook-connected<br />

coat hangers! Yes,<br />

you read that right. C&A’s<br />

recent concept in Brazil is<br />

currently being tested at the<br />

brand’s flagship store at the<br />

Iguatemi Shopping Centre in<br />

São Paulo.<br />

impatient. We expect to find what we<br />

want and we want it instantly. We no<br />

longer tolerate poor display standards<br />

or indifferent customer service. We’ll<br />

search for an item in a store, and if we<br />

can’t find it we’ll quickly move on until<br />

we do. To compete in a digital world,<br />

investing more in instore staff training<br />

has become indispensable - because a<br />

well-informed and caring human being<br />

is always going to be better at making a<br />

sale than any cold and lifeless computer<br />

screen.<br />

The most effective brands have long<br />

been adept at combining the familiar<br />

with the new. This allows their customers<br />

to feel reassured while at the same<br />

time always experiencing something<br />

exciting instore. At Visual Thinking we<br />

bring our passion and expertise to the<br />

task of improving the shopper experience,<br />

aligning policy with behaviours<br />

to inject new life into your brand and increase<br />

retail performance.<br />

Audi City, London<br />

Moo.com, London<br />

This stunning automotive This experimental<br />

cyber store features Audi’s physical store brings the<br />

entire model line-up, and brand’s online layout to<br />

several hundred million life through a series of<br />

vehicle configurations, all interactive installations.<br />

under one roof. Combining One wall references<br />

craftsmanship, visual theatre drop-down menus of its<br />

and precision HD technology, website. Customers can<br />

this instore digital experience also bookmark things<br />

allows shoppers to browse they like via QR. It’s full of<br />

virtually in realistic 1:1 scale. playful idea that transcend<br />

the cold efficiency<br />

of the virtual world.<br />

“Visual Thinking challenged us to do better and created a focused team to get things right” — Adidas

Our Fantasy Mall<br />

Ever dream of having all your<br />

favourite shops in one place? Introducing our own<br />

virtual shopping mall, filled with all the retailers we love<br />

the most. If you’re looking for the ultimate shopping<br />

experience and world-class VM standards and service,<br />

you’re in the right place.<br />

Lane Crawford<br />

Apple<br />

Burberry<br />

Coach<br />

Prada<br />

Livraria da Vila<br />

Department Store<br />

Electronics<br />

Menswear<br />

Accessories<br />

Womenswear<br />

Books<br />

Our first choice to anchor<br />

our mall would be Asia’s<br />

Lane Crawford, whose<br />

stores can be found in<br />

China and Hong Kong. Its<br />

store at ifc mall, Central,<br />

is beautiful, with great<br />

VM, top brands, a definitive<br />

look and amazing<br />

atrium displays.<br />

No mall would be complete<br />

without an Apple store.<br />

Category leadership, best<br />

in class and original out-of<br />

the-box-thinking; the pioneering<br />

brand continues<br />

to dominate, with great<br />

VM and matchless service.<br />

Often copied but, to this<br />

day, never equalled.<br />

Burberry’s stores offer a<br />

brilliant combination of<br />

British garment heritage<br />

and technological innovation.<br />

Embracing the best<br />

of old and new, the retailer<br />

is a survivor, re-imagined<br />

and reborn for the future,<br />

constantly delivering new<br />

relevance for new shoppers…<br />

a bit like us.<br />

A long-term advocate of<br />

innovative VM, Coach has<br />

been an ambassador of<br />

outstanding product presentation<br />

and sector leadership<br />

for many years:<br />

delivering a thoroughly<br />

cohesive brand message,<br />

above and below the line.<br />

Prada stores demonstrate<br />

exceptional commitment<br />

to product and style<br />

through consistent global<br />

brand delivery - exclusive,<br />

yet accessible, with just<br />

the right balance of celebrity<br />

appeal.<br />

Tucked away in São Paulo<br />

is a book store that boasts<br />

outstanding retail architecture,<br />

products and service,<br />

all delivered with a<br />

unique ‘brand handwriting’<br />

and signature style to<br />

create a definitive bookshop<br />

experience like no<br />

other.<br />

Casa Palacio<br />

Home & Furniture<br />

Whole Foods<br />

Market<br />

Food<br />

Aesop<br />

Personal Grooming<br />

BMW Boutique<br />

Automotive<br />

Torvehallerne<br />

KBH<br />

Fresh Market<br />

La Rinascente<br />

Department Store<br />

Designed to make shoppers<br />

feel like they’re at<br />

the home of a friend (with<br />

great taste) rather than in<br />

a shop, Casa Palacio is a<br />

stunning new retail concept<br />

store in Mexico City.<br />

Covering three floors, it<br />

carries products from<br />

over 60 brands, including:<br />

Fortnum & Mason, Ralph<br />

Lauren Home, Christofle,<br />

Hermes, Baccarat, MoMA,<br />

Assouline and Rizzoli.<br />

A big retailer with respect<br />

for the little guys makes<br />

this a firm favourite. Its<br />

company values in regard<br />

to animal welfare, pesticide<br />

use, packaging and<br />

recycling have to be admired.<br />

The same goes for<br />

its brand delivery: newer<br />

stores have now updated<br />

the tired ‘folksy’ American<br />

look, but retained their<br />

commitment to leadership<br />

in product presentation.<br />

With its imaginative and<br />

thought-provoking stores,<br />

this Australian retailer’s<br />

stylish artisan products<br />

and minimalist packaging<br />

has a unique brand image<br />

which is more pharmacist<br />

than beauty industry: the<br />

thinking person’s grooming<br />

brand.<br />

BMW’s Paris boutique<br />

reinvents the customer<br />

experience for buying a<br />

car. Illustrating a deep understanding<br />

of brand, customer<br />

and commitment<br />

to continuous innovation,<br />

the store delivers a leadership<br />

‘best in class’ retail<br />

brand experience.<br />

The Danes have served up<br />

a contemporary take on<br />

the fresh market concept.<br />

Modern retail design and<br />

outstanding product presentation<br />

are matched by<br />

entertaining and engaging<br />

stall holders. The outdoor<br />

market is everything<br />

a distinctive micro retail<br />

and independent-based<br />

retail concept should be.<br />

No tech, just 100% real<br />

people and real, wholesome<br />

food.<br />

Every mall needs two anchors.<br />

Next on our list<br />

would be Italy’s La Rinascente.<br />

When the Milanese<br />

store was refurbished it<br />

became an example of<br />

how great modern architects<br />

can be engaged<br />

to create inspiring retail<br />

environments. We love<br />

the outstanding attention<br />

to detail throughout the<br />

store, combined with brilliant<br />

VM and customer<br />


Shop Talk<br />

Long away days and being<br />

talked at in cramped training rooms just don’t<br />

cut it anymore. Today’s retail training demands<br />

active learner involvement and creative,<br />

thought-provoking content...<br />

Staff training is a perennial issue in retail<br />

but, while it remains as essential as<br />

ever, the way it is delivered has evolved<br />

beyond recognition. Twenty years ago,<br />

training sessions typically happened<br />

away from the store. But it’s now recognised<br />

that training staff remotely is generally<br />

more expensive and less effective<br />

than keeping it instore.<br />

The fact is the new world of retail demands<br />

a new kind of training. In today’s<br />

cost conscious climate, and with operational<br />

constraints on time, retailers<br />

must find different ways of developing<br />

their people’s skills and, where training<br />

is concerned, less is definitely more.<br />

Smaller, shorter, highly focused instore<br />

training sessions are more suited to the<br />

needs of modern retail, and it’s now possible<br />

to equip people with new skills in<br />

just hours, rather than days.<br />

For training to be effective, it must<br />

now go beyond the scope of conventional<br />

task-based learning and give people the<br />

skills to excel. Seizing the advantage in<br />

a highly competitive retail marketplace<br />

calls for a do-it-now, do-it-better mentality:<br />

store presentation, visual merchandising,<br />

creative display and customer<br />

service are all hands-on skills. This<br />

means that people no longer just ‘attend’<br />

a training session, but get actively involved.<br />

Delivery methods have also changed.<br />

‘Physical’ training is now backed up<br />

with online tools and e-books, and combining<br />

live group training with remote<br />

self-learning packages has enabled it to<br />

be delivered at a faster pace. But while<br />

changes in technology have made training<br />

more readily available, for it to make<br />

a positive difference trainers must still<br />

have the relevant expertise. This means<br />

being able to constantly reinvent content<br />

and delivery to keep the appeal fresh,<br />

and create an environment where ideas<br />

can be shared in a dynamic and engaging<br />

way.<br />

It’s vital that<br />

retailers care<br />

as much about<br />

the people<br />

who interact<br />

with their<br />

customers as<br />

the customers<br />

themselves.<br />

Only then do<br />

we see lasting<br />

change.<br />

Finally, if our twenty years in the<br />

business have taught us one thing, it’s<br />

that well-trained and well-informed people<br />

perform better and sell more. To this<br />

end, it’s vital that retailers care as much<br />

about the people who interact with their<br />

customers as the customers themselves.<br />

Only then do we see lasting change.<br />

Euroshop 2014<br />

16-20 February 2014<br />

Messe Düsseldorf, Germany<br />

euroshop-tradefair.com<br />

Retail Week Awards 2014<br />

13 March 2014<br />

Grosvenor House Hotel,<br />

Park Lane, London<br />

retailweekawards.com<br />

Diary Planogram<br />

Here’s a hand with your retail knowledge intake over the coming<br />

months, from international conferences and exhibitions to industry<br />

awards. The places to be, and the places to find out more.<br />

Retail Week Live<br />

Marketing Week Live<br />

12-13 March 2014<br />

25-26 June 2014<br />

Hilton London Metropole, UK<br />

Olympia Grand, London<br />

retailweeklive.com<br />

marketingweeklive.co.uk<br />

VM & Display Show<br />

World Retail Congress<br />

29th April - 1st May 2014<br />

29 September - 1 October 2014<br />

Business Design Centre, London cnit, La Défense, Paris<br />

vmanddisplay.com<br />

worldretailcongress.com<br />

Visual Language<br />

We share our expertise with clients on every<br />

continent. Here are some of the locations we’ve<br />

worked in during the last 12 months:<br />

Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Bratislava, Brno, Budapest,<br />

Chicago, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Krakow,<br />

Lodz, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami,<br />

Milan, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, Plzen, Prague, Riga, San<br />

Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Tallinn and Tokyo.<br />

“Thank you for delivering a world-class training” — Harley-Davidson

Normal<br />

Consistent<br />

Same<br />

Ordinary<br />

Standard<br />

Conformist<br />

Disruptive<br />

VARIED<br />





BLAND<br />

Brand<br />

Consisency<br />

If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just — Anita Roddick, original eco queen<br />

As we head into 2014, the outlook for retail remains<br />

unpredictable. The brands which prosper will do more than get the basics<br />

right. They’ll create experiences that defy customer expectations and venture<br />

boldly into new territory…<br />

It was once accepted wisdom that the<br />

continuing success of any brand depended<br />

upon consistency. Sadly this no longer<br />

applies. For while consistency may be a<br />

vital component in the overall approach<br />

to brand marketing – such as in customer<br />

service, quality control and pricing –<br />

from a merchandising perspective it can<br />

too easily translate as complacency.<br />

As we all know, complacency kills<br />

retail. Any retailer who is serious about<br />

growth must accept that being ‘good<br />

enough’ is no longer a guarantee of survival.<br />

And, as the recent demise of so<br />

many high street names shows us, no<br />

brand is invulnerable to change. The<br />

economy may be on the up, but retail still<br />

has much to do if it is to reverse the damage<br />

caused by the recession. And this<br />

calls for action. Because the days of large<br />

multiple retailers rolling out the same<br />

store formats up and down the country,<br />

year on year, are now consigned to<br />

history.<br />

Shopping behaviour, demographics,<br />

economic conditions and technology<br />

have all combined to change the visual<br />

language of retail. If they are to survive<br />

and prosper, brands must rise to the<br />

challenge, and this begins with implementing<br />

an effective VM policy. Sadly,<br />

it’s the one area that few do well.<br />

The key to success is flexibility. All<br />

too often, brands become locked into a<br />

repetitive cycle of indecision, of robotic<br />

conformity, of playing it safe. But the best<br />

brands challenge themselves in the good<br />

times as well as the bad. It isn’t just about<br />

daring to be different. It’s about having<br />

a good idea and continually striving to<br />

make it better, about exploring ways to<br />

improve the customer experience, and<br />

Any retailer<br />

who is serious<br />

about growth<br />

must accept<br />

that being<br />

‘good enough’<br />

is no longer a<br />

guarantee of<br />

survival.<br />

never tiring of perfecting better ways to<br />

keep people coming back.<br />

Shoppers are attracted by innovation,<br />

not consistency. It’s time to see, think and<br />

act differently and to go beyond accepted<br />

notions of ‘best practice’. To achieve this,<br />

brands need to invest in the right expertise.<br />

Every year Visual Thinking helps<br />

retailers redefine their VM strategies<br />

by introducing new ways of thinking<br />

and creating engaging experiences that<br />

awaken customers’ love for shopping in<br />

their stores. We work with you to help<br />

make your brand great (or revive your<br />

brand to make it great once more!). Positive<br />

change for your customers starts<br />

here and it starts now. And we’re here to<br />

help make it happen.<br />

Be brave. Be rewarded.

Favourites List<br />

Nick Lodge<br />

Senior Brand Consultant<br />

Kirsty Kean<br />

VM Consultant<br />

Lynn Butler<br />

VM Consultant<br />

Helen Bonser<br />

VM Consultant<br />

A childhood fan of Lego,<br />

I’m now revisiting the<br />

brand with my son. Lego<br />

continues to evolve and<br />

inspire imaginations: a<br />

mark of any great brand.<br />

Its timeless simplicity carries<br />

through into its standalone<br />

retail experience,<br />

even with the integration<br />

of shopper technologies<br />

like augmented reality.<br />

The result is an engaging<br />

customer experience and<br />

great service, upholding<br />

the Lego brand values<br />

superbly.<br />

The first time I visited<br />

Anthropologie in New<br />

York, it totally changed<br />

my perception of retailing.<br />

In particular I enjoy the<br />

exploratory feel of the<br />

design and layout, which<br />

works very powerfully<br />

on the shopper. With<br />

all those rails, boxes<br />

and drawers to search<br />

through it invites you to<br />

continue looking, in the<br />

hope that you’ll discover<br />

that elusive ‘must-have’<br />

item. The message<br />

to customers is ‘shop<br />

everything and<br />

everywhere’.<br />

Where Jo Malone<br />

is concerned I’m an<br />

advertiser’s dream. The<br />

brand never fails to work<br />

its seductive magic upon<br />

me, and I always end up<br />

buying and adding to my<br />

ever-growing collection.<br />

The brand’s clean and<br />

effortless visual delivery<br />

means I simply forget all<br />

the tricks of the trade and<br />

succumb to the shopping<br />

experience. And, in case<br />

you were wondering,<br />

yes, I always keep the<br />

perfumed tissue gift box<br />

and ribbon.<br />

I’m a big fan of Cath<br />

Kidston. A pioneer of the<br />

vintage and shabby chic<br />

look, it’s a quintessentially<br />

British brand with a quirky<br />

edge. 20 years on, it’s<br />

more popular than ever:<br />

buoyed by the trend for all<br />

things ‘vintage’. Famous<br />

for its distinctive iconic<br />

prints, the number of<br />

stores remains relatively<br />

small scale. It speaks<br />

volumes about the<br />

strength of the brand that<br />

it does not feel the need<br />

to appear on every<br />

high street.<br />

To learn more about the Visual Thinking consultants, visit:<br />

visualthinking.co.uk/our-people or better still get in touch and meet them in person.<br />

Changing<br />

Rooms<br />

Trends may change, but<br />

retailer needs remain the same. The<br />

time-honoured principles that we apply<br />

to every new visual merchandising<br />

brief are as relevant as ever. While the<br />

physical store and customer experience<br />

remain a vital part of shopping, many<br />

of the traditional approaches to retail<br />

merchandising are being re-evaluated.<br />

Despite this, the core theme of our work<br />

– creating shopping environments that<br />

customers are happy to shop in, because<br />

happy shoppers buy more – will always<br />

remain unchanged.<br />

Branch Presentation Development<br />

Comprehensive VM and retail policy review,<br />

followed by the creation of new VM communications<br />

tools and training support to deliver<br />

effective retail policy implementation by<br />

branch teams.<br />

VM for Tu Clothing<br />

Developed new VM policy solutions for<br />

Sainsbury’s Tu Clothing brand re-launch. Development<br />

of Tu VM Manual and VM training<br />

support for store management, clothing department<br />

colleagues and regional field teams.<br />

Online Policy & Learning Tools<br />

Developed and launched innovative e-learning<br />

platform to showcase VM best practice<br />

within various store formats, incorporating<br />

a combination of interactive 360° motion<br />

photography and still images, with voiceover<br />

training modules.<br />

Sony BRAVIA Brand Audit<br />

Conducted a comprehensive European<br />

VM insight activity over a six-week period,<br />

comprising visits to eight EU countries and<br />

70+ technology stores to evaluate and report<br />

on the effectiveness of Sony BRAVIA product<br />

presentation instore.<br />

Happy Shoppers Buy More.<br />

VM, brand delivery and retail performance improvement.<br />

A great customer experience starts here.<br />


Add to Basket<br />

It’s a fact that effective<br />

retail communication leads to better brand<br />

delivery. From well designed retail policy<br />

information and VM manuals to training support<br />

tools and seasonal launch materials. Our<br />

comprehensive range of VM training products<br />

continue to give people the tools they need to<br />

see, think and act differently.<br />

The only way to do great work is to love what you do — Steve Jobs, visionary geek hero

—M&S, Shanghai<br />

Bagging<br />

Area<br />

The globetrotting nature of their<br />

work means that VT consultants<br />

spend much of their time out of the<br />

office. Going away is always made<br />

that bit easier when accompanied<br />

by their favourite things. Here we<br />

share some typical contents from<br />

our well-travelled hand luggage.<br />

—All Saints, New York<br />

Well Heeled. Always pack a pair of<br />

Camper shoes. They epitomise comfort<br />

and Mediterranean style. Camper<br />

stores are as distinctive as their shoes.<br />

One of its latest, on 5th Avenue in New<br />

York, features over a thousand ghostly<br />

white resin models of the brand’s iconic<br />

Pelotas shoe projecting from the walls.<br />

It’s very impactful.<br />

—Thomas Pink, Hong Kong —Next, Dubai —Topman, São Paulo<br />

Reading Matters. Our VM travels<br />

take us to many different countries. So<br />

spending hours on a plane is common.<br />

It’s why an Amazon Kindle is one<br />

of our ultimate companions on long<br />

journeys. Never far from our side, it<br />

has quickly become the market leader.<br />

The brand’s retail ambitions to find a<br />

truly differentiated instore idea certainly<br />

makes for an interesting read, too.<br />

High Energy. When travelling, we’re<br />

never sure when, or even what the next<br />

meal will be. In case of emergencies,<br />

we suggest carrying some dried<br />

apricots and unsalted nuts from M&S.<br />

They’re a healthy alternative to junk<br />

food and snacks - and really tasty too!<br />

Export Market<br />

For all large retailers,<br />

keeping their store standards, VM and<br />

customer service consistent across just the one<br />

country can be a difficult task. When stores go<br />

international, achieving success across borders<br />

requires new levels of aptitude and efficiency.<br />

—Burberry, Chicago<br />

Uncommon Scents. When it comes<br />

to fragrance, think citrus notes: both<br />

Acqua de Parma and Paul Smith<br />

Sunshine work well. It’s the perfect<br />

excuse to visit the brand’s store in<br />

London’s Mayfair. The atmosphere is<br />

urbanely relaxed and perfectly captures<br />

the air of refined eclecticism for which<br />

Paul Smith is renowned.<br />

Looking the Part. Business clothing<br />

is more casual these days, which is a<br />

shame because we like to look smart.<br />

Try classic brands with a contemporary<br />

style twist. For men’s casual wear, we’d<br />

choose Calvin Klein and G Star, while<br />

our female consultants can be found<br />

in Ted Baker, Reiss and the resurgent<br />

French Connection.<br />

Hold All. Our brand director Karl<br />

McKeever was an early adopter of<br />

the man bag. From departure gate<br />

to arrival lounge, and for essential<br />

duty-free shopping, his Bally, Coach<br />

and Mulberry bags have long been<br />

indispensible travel companions.<br />

For luggage, his classic GlobeTrotter<br />

suitcase (above) has notched up<br />

incredible air miles. Nothing else<br />

compares.<br />

Whatever the market, delivering a brand<br />

consistently across borders calls for a<br />

carefully considered strategy – it also<br />

means mastering the delicate art of the<br />

international sell.<br />

Global retail currently has a foot in<br />

two dramatically different worlds. While<br />

many countries are taking their first tentative<br />

steps on the road to economic recovery,<br />

others, such as Russia, China and<br />

Brazil, are booming and on full throttle.<br />

On a quest to capitalise on these new<br />

markets, many UK retailers have now<br />

gone global, with brands such as Burberry,<br />

Marks & Spencer, WHSmith and<br />

Clarks all expanding overseas, and they<br />

remain bullish about their prospects.<br />

Despite a few much-publicised misfires,<br />

most notably within grocery retailing,<br />

even the unpredictable US market is<br />

witnessing the arrival of British brands,<br />

with Topshop currently leading the way.<br />

The global landscape has seldom looked<br />

more promising for retailers seeking<br />

new opportunities, but to be confident<br />

of success they need the right tools. Propelling<br />

a brand into a global marketplace<br />

is not without its dangers, and making<br />

the leap can be daunting, not least when<br />

overcoming cultural barriers. In particular,<br />

tailoring retail and VM strategy<br />

to suit local needs and buying habits can<br />

present a significant challenge.<br />

Understanding cultural and behavioural<br />

differences among shoppers and<br />

how these might affect sales is a key part<br />

of our work at Visual Thinking. We like<br />

to think of it as global experience, combined<br />

with local expertise. The world<br />

may feel like a smaller place, but wherever<br />

the region, whatever the sector, being<br />

fully equipped to meet local challenges<br />

and deliver consistent retail standards is<br />

key to success.<br />

View More<br />

Images<br />

Looking for fresh inspiration? Each year<br />

our global VM projects involve us taking<br />

hundreds of photographs. We now<br />

have an archive of over 20,000 retail<br />

images, and they give an invaluable<br />

insight into international retail design,<br />

as well as charting consumer trends<br />

over the last 20 years.<br />

Our image library offers a fantastic<br />

resource for stimulating new ideas, and<br />

photos are now available to purchase<br />

on a royalty-free basis. To find out<br />

more, simply get in touch with us.<br />

Contact our marketing team for<br />

ordering details on:<br />

+44 (0)1788 543 331

A Vision for Change —<br />

Karl McKeever<br />

in Profile<br />

A self-confessed perfectionist, Visual Thinking’s<br />

brand director is known for getting things done. His unique approach<br />

to visual merchandising has earned him a devoted clientele among<br />

some of the world’s best-known retail brands, and he is a leading<br />

authority in his field...<br />

Karl began his career in retail at clothing<br />

chain Next - and in a typically unorthodox<br />

fashion: “I took the then Next HR<br />

manager’s bank card hostage when, as a<br />

student, I was working on the checkout<br />

at Sainsbury’s,” he recalls. “I refused to<br />

return it unless she granted me a job interview.<br />

Remarkably she agreed. The interview<br />

landed me my first job as Next’s<br />

first male retail management trainee. I<br />

am to this day still enormously proud of<br />

the opportunity offered to me. In career<br />

terms, it was the opportunity of a lifetime,<br />

in what would turn out to be one of<br />

the UK’s most exciting and successful<br />

new retail brands”.<br />

Karl was shortly offered a leading<br />

role in the brand presentation team,<br />

where he worked on development projects<br />

for future Next brands; Next for<br />

Men, Next Interiors, Next for Children<br />

and Next Cosmetics. “The Next experience<br />

was so instrumental to my career<br />

and thinking,” he says. “I spent my formative<br />

years working alongside the likes<br />

of Tricia Guild from Designers’ Guild -<br />

the team behind Molton Brown - and Tim<br />

and Fiona Slack from Ryder Footwear.<br />

These were the leading retail minds of<br />

their era. It would be the equivalent of<br />

working for Apple today. I was very lucky<br />

to be in the right place at the right time. I<br />

learnt a lot, and I’ve never looked back.”<br />

Before going on to found his own<br />

consultancy, Karl held key VM roles for<br />

a number of leading retail brands, beginning<br />

with Principles, where he was<br />

headhunted to introduce new visual merchandising<br />

and retail policies to support<br />

the chain after its previously successful<br />

launch. Whilst there, he helped get the<br />

brand back on track, working with the<br />

VM team to consolidate what was to become<br />

the first ‘real fashion’ brand in the<br />

Burton Group.<br />

After time with premium home decoration<br />

brand Jane Churchill Limited,<br />

Karl then went on to head-up visual merchandising<br />

at Paperchase, following its<br />

acquisition by WHSmith. Paperchase<br />

was being refocused to become a leading<br />

fashion stationery brand. Whilst here,<br />

he worked with an outstanding team of<br />

brand professionals including, among<br />

others, the highly talented Flo Bayley. He<br />

was involved in all aspects of the brand<br />

repositioning, translating the brand vision<br />

into new VM policy and retail practices<br />

instore.<br />

Driven by a desire to share his experience<br />

and skills with a wider audience,<br />

Karl was now ready to move on to new<br />

territory. Visual Thinking was born of a<br />

sudden realisation, and in the unlikeliest<br />

of settings. “I’d dropped by a historic<br />

country hotel for afternoon tea,” Karl recalls:<br />

“It was in Buxton, Derbyshire. Tea<br />

was served in an elegantly refurbished<br />

drawing room. It had clearly cost tens of<br />

thousands of pounds to restore to such<br />

an impressive standard. But then the tea<br />

arrived.<br />

“We were served by staff who clearly<br />

had no knowledge or awareness of their<br />

role. Not only was the service brusque<br />

and inattentive, the tea was terrible,<br />

served without any care on dirty tableware<br />

that had no connection or relevance<br />

to the hotel interior design.<br />

“The service did nothing to match the<br />

environment, and in a most glaring way.<br />

My frustration<br />

is that the UK<br />

has great brands<br />

and people, but<br />

it seems we lack<br />

the determination<br />

to excel. We’re<br />

good at building<br />

empires, but<br />

not so good at<br />

sustaining them.<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

Resume<br />

1993 — Holds<br />

launch party at<br />

the Royal Society, where<br />

the retail royalty of the<br />

day are invited, and turn<br />

up (all 180 of them). The<br />

event is a huge success<br />

and Selfridges, Levi’s and<br />

Rockport are added to the<br />

VT client list.<br />

1995 — Relocates<br />

to Leicestershire,<br />

with purpose-built building<br />

designed to facilitate<br />

large-scale training for<br />

blue chip retail brands.<br />

1996 — Karl takes<br />

sole responsibility<br />

for the business, as the<br />

head of the management<br />

team. Visual Thinking<br />

becomes a limited<br />

company and exceeds<br />

£1m turnover for the first<br />

time.<br />

2001 — Launches<br />

leadership and<br />

development programme<br />

for M&S. The door also<br />

opens to work with Gap<br />

and Timberland.

VT<br />

TV ©<br />

Highly<br />

Rated<br />

When it comes to spreading the<br />

word about the benefits of better<br />

brand delivery, few do it better<br />

than Visual Thinking.<br />

Since we began in 1993, our brand<br />

director Karl McKeever has become<br />

a leading media voice on the subject<br />

of retail excellence. Chosen by Alex<br />

Polizzi to appear as a retail expert<br />

on each series of the popular BBC2<br />

series, The Fixer, Karl played a<br />

key advisory role in transforming<br />

the fortunes of the featured retail<br />

businesses.<br />

His appearance on BBC1’s hit<br />

show The Apprentice was another<br />

TV highlight. Sitting alongside fellow<br />

judge Ed Burstell, managing director<br />

of Liberty, and other members of<br />

the judging panel, Karl was asked<br />

to advise Lord Sugar on the retail<br />

concepts presented by candidates<br />

to help decide the finalists. Visual<br />

Thinking’s thought-provoking insights<br />

also feature widely in the media<br />

including The Daily Telegraph, Sky 1,<br />

Bloomberg, The Guardian, and<br />

The Independent. Karl was also<br />

interviewed for British Airways’<br />

Business Life in-flight magazine, as<br />

well as contributing a monthly column<br />

Here we were in this magnificent setting,<br />

and this was the best they could<br />

come up with? It made me want to make<br />

the experience much better. But it also<br />

got me thinking.<br />

“Just like the management of this hotel,<br />

to compete effectively, retailers desperately<br />

needed to develop their teams<br />

as to what their brand stood for and how<br />

to do the right things well. Because it<br />

wasn’t that the staff at this particular hotel<br />

- or indeed anywhere else - were necessarily<br />

‘bad’ at their jobs; they simply<br />

lacked the awareness, knowledge and<br />

skills to deliver. Here was the gap in the<br />

market, my light bulb moment.”<br />

The rest, of course, is history. Over<br />

20 years, Karl and his team have helped<br />

define instore operations for some of the<br />

top names in retail. His ‘thinking like a<br />

customer’ approach to VM has become<br />

an industry byword, as has his trademark<br />

project sign-off: ‘looks good, feels<br />

great, sells more’.<br />

“We have sprinkled acronyms (which<br />

I generally dislike as they also add complexity),<br />

such as SILIBI ‘See it, Like it<br />

and Buy it, to help land many practical<br />

concepts for better VM and retail delivery<br />

into organisations all over the world.<br />

If there is a vocabulary for successful<br />

retailers, I have certainly added a few<br />

words of my own.”<br />

Visual Thinking’s portfolio has since<br />

grown to include brands across the international<br />

retail spectrum, ranging<br />

from fashion and automotive through<br />

to homeware, telecoms and bookshops.<br />

Recent projects include an integrated<br />

VM training and communications programme<br />

to support Marks & Spencer’s<br />

ambitious customer experience transformation<br />

plans, as well as the launch of<br />

children’s retail brand Baroue in Kuwait,<br />

a flagship project. The company was also<br />

responsible for supporting the launch<br />

and ongoing development of Sainsbury’s<br />

TU clothing brand. And, since 2008, has<br />

been involved in an end-to-end VM policy<br />

development and retail delivery for<br />

Harley-Davidson, which has been rolled<br />

out in dealerships on every continent<br />

around the world.<br />

If my work at<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

has a legacy,<br />

it will be that<br />

retailers around<br />

the world are<br />

now more<br />

knowledgeable<br />

and better<br />

skilled to<br />

succeed.<br />

for influential industry journal,<br />

Retail Focus.<br />

www.retail-focus.co.uk<br />

www.bbc.co.uk<br />

Courtyard Bridal<br />

Oak Garden<br />

Centre<br />

Kettley’s<br />

Props & Frocks<br />

One to Watch<br />

2004 — New Year’s<br />

Eve sees the first of<br />

many national newspaper<br />

full-page spreads, with<br />

Karl revealing the secrets<br />

of visual merchandising<br />

in the Daily Telegraph.<br />

2008 — Harley-<br />

Davidson becomes<br />

a client and VT starts to<br />

handle the end-to-end<br />

VM programme for every<br />

new dealership around<br />

the world. Still ongoing,<br />

this campaign has taken<br />

the team to every<br />

continent.<br />

2010 — On the<br />

back of one of his<br />

many magazine columns,<br />

Karl is booked into the<br />

Newsnight studio for<br />

the ‘Election Special’ to<br />

discuss The Psychology<br />

of the Polling Booth.<br />

2013 — Visual<br />

Thinking<br />

celebrates its 20th<br />

birthday. It’s fair to say<br />

a lot has changed since<br />

we began our journey.<br />

Think back to (gasp) a<br />

time before the iPhone. In<br />

fact, back to the year the<br />

Internet was born. Yes,<br />

we have been around for<br />

that long.<br />

Discussions to secure future media<br />

appearances in 2014 are already at<br />

an advanced stage. We’re excited to<br />

say that details about forthcoming<br />

involvement on national TV will be<br />

announced soon, once again allowing<br />

Visual Thinking to raise awareness<br />

about the importance of effective retail<br />

strategy and visual merchandising<br />

principles. Be sure to watch out for us.

Store<br />

Directory<br />

Every consultant who joins us at Visual Thinking<br />

arrives with a wealth of experience behind them<br />

and a successful and fulfilling career ahead of<br />

them. Here are some of the retailers they’ve<br />

worked for:<br />

Ann Summers, Arcadia, Aurum Holdings,<br />

Bank Fashion, Cath Kidston, French<br />

Connection, Gap Inc, House of Fraser,<br />

Joules Clothing, Levi, Mamas & Papas,<br />

Marks & Spencer, Molton Brown, Next,<br />

Paperchase, Ralph Lauren, Rohan, Ronhill,<br />

Sk:n, Thomas Cook, Thorntons, Timberland,<br />

Walt Disney Company.<br />

—Harley-Davidson, Tallinn<br />

Back to<br />

the Future<br />

Career<br />

Development<br />

Andrea Moore<br />

Former Marketing Director, Cath Kidston<br />

Retailers come and go, and<br />

come and go again. Of those who survive, only<br />

a few remain truly inspiring. And while with time<br />

they may have changed, the story behind their<br />

success is a familiar one.<br />

I became part of the Visual Thinking team back<br />

in 1997. In my time there I was responsible<br />

for activating a variety of brand development,<br />

leadership skills and VM training programmes for<br />

clients including Carphone Warehouse, M&S and<br />

Rockport.<br />

My journey with Visual Thinking opened the<br />

door for a move to Levi Strauss as European<br />

Trade Marketing Manager, although I left with<br />

a heavy heart because I enjoyed my time there<br />

enormously. Working out of Brussels, I went<br />

on to head up product range development and<br />

marketing of premium concepts, including Levi’s<br />

Vintage Clothing, even managing European<br />

advertising and helping to launch the brand’s first<br />

e-commerce site. Having grown up with Levi’s<br />

iconic advertising it was a real achievement to<br />

be part of the team involved in delivering a new<br />

multichannel marketing model. A few years later,<br />

I moved back to London to drive brand strategy<br />

within the UK and Ireland. During this time I led<br />

the project to complete a major refit of its Regent<br />

Street flagship store.<br />

After 11 years I left to join Molton Brown as VP<br />

Global Brand Management, before moving again<br />

to take up the role of Marketing Director with<br />

Cath Kidston, where my efforts were focused<br />

on strengthening the brand proposition, driving<br />

global consistency and marketing effectiveness.<br />

I still refer to the principles of visual<br />

communication, at the heart of VT, which quickly<br />

became instinctive. The support and backing<br />

of Karl during my time in the fast paced, high<br />

calibre and passionate culture that is Visual<br />

Thinking set me up with a broad insight into many<br />

leading retail brands and gave me confidence to<br />

take risks along with the determination to push<br />

through high standards and persevere with the<br />

things I really believe in.<br />

The majority of retailers and brands that<br />

have disappeared from our lives have<br />

done so for a reason. Often they’ve simply<br />

reached the end of their natural life.<br />

Though more seriously, on other occasions<br />

they’ve failed to keep abreast of the<br />

times.<br />

But while retail brands must continue<br />

to innovate and stay at the forefront<br />

of technology, they should never neglect<br />

the past. The relationship in retail between<br />

past and present success is a reoccurring<br />

theme. Leading brands such as<br />

Harley-Davidson, Levi, Heinz, Coca-Cola<br />

- the list goes on - all sell powerfully on<br />

their heritage, and the likelihood of them<br />

ever being displaced would seem a distant<br />

prospect.<br />

Then there’s the reappearance of<br />

brands once thought to be extinct.<br />

Volkswagen reintroduced its iconic Beetle<br />

in 1998, two years before BMW re-imagined<br />

the Mini. Jaguar also sought to<br />

reference the past, though with mixed<br />

success. More recently, the Wispa bar<br />

was resurrected, returning to shelves<br />

for the first time since 2000.<br />

Whether reviving an iconic lost brand<br />

or ensuring the continued relevance of<br />

an existing brand, success depends on<br />

retaining those original qualities that<br />

first captured the public’s imagination,<br />

while bringing it firmly up to date, both<br />

in design and functionality. The features<br />

that made the Beetle and Mini so different<br />

in the 1960s: compact, reliable, economical<br />

– remain just as relevant today.<br />

They’re the same, but better.<br />

The same principles apply instore.<br />

The importance of effective VM strategy<br />

is as critical today as it has ever been.<br />

Driving growth depends on the ability to<br />

deliver an outstanding customer experience,<br />

and doing so consistently across<br />

stores and continents. This means finding<br />

new and dynamic ways to optimise<br />

retail space and maximise sales, continuously<br />

evolving while also remaining<br />

true to the original values of the brand.<br />

And it can be notoriously difficult to<br />

achieve.<br />

By shifting the focus back onto retail<br />

and VM policy, we can retain relevance<br />

and seize the competitive advantage.<br />

Presentation remains king: design, merchandising,<br />

display - whether for a new<br />

concept or a retail makeover, and the impact<br />

of getting it right can only be positive.<br />

As we prepare for better economic<br />

times ahead, now is the time to begin<br />

preparing for growth.<br />

The importance<br />

of effective<br />

VM strategy<br />

is as critical<br />

today as it has<br />

ever been.<br />

Driving growth<br />

depends on the<br />

ability to deliver<br />

an outstanding<br />

customer<br />

experience,<br />

and doing so<br />

consistently<br />

across stores<br />

and continents.

Re-New York<br />

Real innovation in US retail has<br />

been muted of late. However, our recent visit<br />

saw some exciting new developments, signalling<br />

growing optimism and a hint of better<br />

things to come in 2014.<br />

—ABC Carpet & Home<br />

with sound demo labs and digital headphone<br />

play tables - while leather goods retailer<br />

Coach has launched its new global store<br />

design in the city.<br />

Wherever you look in New York today,<br />

retailers are reinventing themselves. This is<br />

certainly the view confirmed by our recent<br />

trip. Brands such as Crate & Barrel have<br />

invested heavily in more imaginative store<br />

presentation and brand marketing. Meanwhile,<br />

iconic department store Barney’s has<br />

been busy re-imagining its beauty area. The<br />

result is a stylish, all-white retail temple that<br />

offers an exceptional range of fragrances and<br />

cosmetics, set in discretely branded spaces.<br />

There’s also an exclusive day spa.<br />

The JBL Harman store has introduced a<br />

new range of interactive delights - complete<br />

The brilliantly refurbished basement of<br />

ABC Carpets and Home is further evidence<br />

of renewed investment in the city’s retail<br />

sector. Occupying an entire floor, the new<br />

retail space fits seamlessly with the existing<br />

store infrastructure and works powerfully to<br />

enhance the brand.<br />

With New York stores acting as a<br />

bellwether, and many other parts of the US<br />

economy showing signs of recovery, there’s<br />

growing confidence that the sector is now<br />

firmly on course to enjoy better times. Retailers<br />

take comfort.<br />

—Harman Kardon<br />

—Barneys<br />

—Xocolatti<br />

—Tiffany & Co<br />

—Coach<br />

—Havaianas, São Paulo<br />

Best Before<br />

Date<br />

At first glance, retail history may appear<br />

to have little relevance in today’s multichannel<br />

world. Yet the past continues<br />

to have a direct influence on the<br />

present.<br />

Take discount retailers, where economic<br />

recession combined with the threat from<br />

new competition are a recurring theme. It<br />

was 1993 when Tesco launched its Value<br />

range as a means of fending off new entrants<br />

to the UK market such as Aldi and Lidl. Many<br />

other well-known brands also launched that<br />

year, including mobile phone retailer Orange,<br />

which 20 years on has been<br />

reborn as EE to become the UK’s largest<br />

mobile provider. Hotel Chocolat began<br />

its life as a catalogue business, before<br />

moving onto the high street in 1993,<br />

and there are obvious parallels with the<br />

move by today’s online retailers into the<br />

physical world. And if you needed any<br />

further evidence that retail history goes<br />

full circle, almost 20 years on, the TSB<br />

banking brand has returned alive and well<br />

on our high streets. It’s proof that if retail<br />

brands maintain customer relevance and<br />

a clearly defined purpose, they, and the<br />

operational challenges they face, will be<br />

around for many years to come.<br />

“Visual Thinking’s collaborative approach provided an open challenging environment for change” — Matalan

Desination Retail<br />

At Visual Thinking we know great brand delivery when<br />

we see it. Every year, we travel the world to seek out all that’s cutting-edge<br />

in retail and lifestyle trends. This is a city guide to our top four international<br />

retail destinations. We guarantee they will delight and exhaust even the most<br />

dedicated shopper.<br />

London<br />

Koln<br />

Hong Kong<br />

Dubai<br />

In some ways we were reluctant to name<br />

London as our number-one retail city;<br />

there was always a danger of being accused<br />

of nepotism. But the fact remains:<br />

London is one of the most sophisticated<br />

and diverse shopping destinations on<br />

the planet.<br />

It’s also where VT’s own brand director<br />

Karl McKeever began his career back<br />

in the 1980s. His first ten years in retail<br />

were spent in and around South Molton<br />

Street, a haven of designer labels, working<br />

with and helping shape some of the<br />

great brands that are now among the<br />

UK’s leading employers.<br />

Today, his work frequently takes him<br />

abroad but what he can’t help noticing is<br />

the way in which London has inspired<br />

the world of international retail. The city<br />

has long set the benchmark for brand delivery<br />

and creating great stores, and as<br />

a centre for business, leisure and entertainment<br />

it is arguably without parallel.<br />

It embodies all the advantages of the remaining<br />

cities in our list combined (and<br />

more).<br />

It was a tough choice, but one German<br />

city had to feature in our top four. Koln<br />

beats Munich and Berlin by a hair, not<br />

least because of its ever-changing retail<br />

environment. The stores here are constantly<br />

renewing. We visit Koln at least<br />

five times every year and on each trip we<br />

inevitably discover a major new store, or<br />

at the very least an existing store that is<br />

having a major refurbishment.<br />

As a middle-class student city, Koln<br />

enjoys a high population of young and<br />

affluent consumers. It’s said that Germans<br />

are reluctant shoppers who prefer<br />

to hold on to their money, but we’ve seen<br />

no evidence of this here. On the contrary,<br />

Koln is a vibrant, engaging city that<br />

is teeming with busy stores, especially<br />

at weekends when shopper numbers are<br />

boosted by tourists.<br />

Stores are biased towards mid-market,<br />

chain style, mass brands; but equally<br />

the city acts as a bellwether for testing<br />

new retail concepts.<br />

This incredible high-rise, high density,<br />

high intensity city is electrifying to visit.<br />

Unlike Tokyo - which is largely unaffordable<br />

and palpably exclusive - Hong<br />

Kong’s British roots give it an air of relaxed<br />

accessibility that is easy to enjoy,<br />

and the shopping experience is universally<br />

outstanding.<br />

Hong Kong has a long mercantile history,<br />

and continues to host some amazing<br />

stores. The upmarket designer malls<br />

around Pacific Place and The Landmark<br />

in particular are not to be missed. New<br />

stores continue to open, with Harvey<br />

Nichols, Gap and Burberry among the<br />

best performers. But while in Hong Kong<br />

be sure not to neglect the street markets<br />

of Kowloon. Hot, smoky, gritty and teeming<br />

with life (if also a little intimidating),<br />

they offer a unique shopping experience<br />

as frenzied tourists buy-up suitcases full<br />

of branded goods. The provenance may<br />

be of questionable authenticity, but this<br />

does little to deter those who aspire to<br />

luxury at knock-down prices.<br />

This arid, manmade metropolis plays<br />

host to an impressive range of best-inclass<br />

retail experiences. However, we’ve<br />

selected Dubai not for its great malls, but<br />

for its unrelenting focus on driving up<br />

standards.<br />

Dubai is unashamedly showy but, it<br />

must be said, with good reason: at the<br />

heart of Dubai’s economic miracle is its<br />

recognition that if it was to attract visitors<br />

it had to invest in a world-class infrastructure.<br />

The country’s state-of-the-art, air<br />

conditioned, taxi-essential branded resorts<br />

have enabled it to create a thriving<br />

economy – combining retail, leisure and<br />

entertainment to create a unique and<br />

affordable experience for its many visitors.<br />

Add to this a 365-day summer climate<br />

and you’re onto a winner.<br />

—Branded trams, Hong Kong<br />

—Regent Street, London<br />

—Freitag, Köln<br />

—IFC Mall, Hong Kong<br />

—The Dubai Mall, Dubai

The Magnificent 7 –<br />

Retail Training<br />

Essentials<br />

To have lasting impact, retail training<br />

must be delivered in an engaging and easily digestible<br />

way, ensuring people acquire new skills but without being<br />

overloaded. Visual Thinking has been at the cutting edge<br />

of retail training for more than two decades. From selflearning<br />

through to one-to-one coaching,<br />

here are the essentials:<br />

Retail events<br />

Learning tools<br />

Knowledge<br />

Building<br />

The beauty of modern retail training<br />

is that it can be delivered anywhere:<br />

locally, globally and virtually. Here we<br />

showcase some of the more unusual<br />

training venues used by VT in our quest<br />

to create happy and productive retail<br />

teams: some famous, some not so, and<br />

some just downright strange...<br />

The Burj Khalifa Tower<br />

A truly inspiring location, this magnificent<br />

centrepiece of downtown Dubai made the<br />

perfect destination for the launch of the 2011<br />

Harley-Davidson Global VM Programme – a<br />

three-day leadership event for dealership<br />

management across the MENA region.<br />

Sports Stadium<br />

Commercial and sporting success have much<br />

in common. With this mind, we took over a<br />

famous UK sports stadium to play host to a<br />

brand and VM event for Topps Tiles, as part<br />

of its annual conference.<br />

A Double-Decker Bus<br />

Few things symbolise London more than a<br />

red Routemaster double deck bus. So when<br />

we took managers from telecoms company<br />

KPN Netherlands on a brand awareness tour<br />

of London, a bus provided a perfect first stop.<br />

A stuffy conference is no match for<br />

a memorable 360° themed event that<br />

brings the message to life through a<br />

shared experience. Designed to motivate<br />

and inspire, a well-designed retail<br />

event is an engaging and entertaining<br />

way of communicating with an audience.<br />

For details of our open training<br />

event programme, visit:<br />

visualthinking.co.uk/open-training-events<br />

Group workshops<br />

Make the learning experience come<br />

alive and drive home the message with<br />

a bespoke training course designed<br />

and delivered to meet your exact needs.<br />

But be certain to avoid ‘off the shelf’<br />

training.<br />

One-to-one coaching<br />

Sometimes it’s easier and more effective<br />

to learn new skills on a one-to-one basis,<br />

rather than as part of a group. Specialist<br />

coaching programmes can be tailored<br />

to meet virtually any development need,<br />

and are shown to achieve powerful<br />

results.<br />

World Trade Center - NY<br />

The once iconic symbol of Lower Manhattan<br />

will always remain close to our hearts.<br />

In 2000-2001 the venue was used for the<br />

Visual Foundations Store Manager Training<br />

programme for M&S, completing the project<br />

shortly before that fateful day in September.<br />

HGV Lorry Trailers<br />

For the launch of Marks and Spencer’s ‘The<br />

Look’ VM programme, we went for the truly<br />

unconventional, using HGV lorry trailers to<br />

host 50 four-hour training events for 20,000<br />

UK store colleagues.<br />

Butlin’s Holiday Camp<br />

We love the seaside almost as much as we<br />

love shopping. So we packed our flip flops<br />

and travelled to Butlins to host our VM Awareness<br />

Event for footwear retailer Clarks.<br />

Who say’s learning shouldn’t be fun?<br />

The best training makes learning enjoyable<br />

and memorable. Visual Thinking’s<br />

self-learn training packs incorporate a<br />

range of imaginative and highly effective<br />

learning tools.<br />

e-Manuals<br />

Fast and cost-effective to produce, and<br />

easy to expand and update, e-Manuals<br />

are a versatile and indispensible learning<br />

tool and may be used in a wide range<br />

of training and development scenarios.<br />

Read online or print.<br />

DVD<br />

There’s still a place for the DVD in retail<br />

training. To drive home the message,<br />

sometimes it’s important to repeat it –<br />

more than once. DVD remains one the<br />

fastest, cheapest and most effective<br />

ways of delivering information.<br />

Online media<br />

Learn new skills anytime, anywhere.<br />

Whether used as a stand-alone tool or as<br />

part of a wider learning programme, the<br />

internet has revolutionised the way we<br />

are able to access knowledge and deliver<br />

training.<br />

“Visual Thinking really inspired us and their involvement has moved our journey forward massively” — Wilko

Sales Assisance<br />

Visual Thinking has developed a comprehensive range of brand delivery<br />

products and services including VM manuals, store communication and training materials.<br />

Meticulously crafted by our project consultants, they’ll fit happily into your retail business to<br />

deliver quantifiable results. Whatever your VM delivery or retail training objectives, you’ll find an<br />

effective development solution to suit your budget.<br />

Visual Brand<br />

Audits<br />

VM & Retail Policy<br />

Development<br />

Brand Innovation<br />

Events<br />

Great insight. Trusted advice — A brand audit<br />

provides detailed feedback on what’s happening<br />

instore and, just as importantly, the reasons why.<br />

We use the latest digital data gathering tools,<br />

combined with an expert critique to produce<br />

statistical, photographic and comment-based<br />

findings. Engaged to report on all areas of VM,<br />

store operations, customer service and retail<br />

team development, a brand audit provides invaluable<br />

insights to support better decision-making<br />

at every level, including competitor benchmarking,<br />

brand delivery consistency, compliance and<br />

standards for future VM improvement and retail<br />

strategy development.<br />

Better performing stores — In retail,<br />

presentation is king. Visual Thinking has a<br />

reputation for best-in-class store presentation<br />

solutions that deliver impressive commercial<br />

results. Make your stores easier and more<br />

enjoyable places in which to shop and ensure<br />

products are presented to maximise space<br />

and sales potential. We work across all market<br />

sectors, giving your brand access to cutting-edge<br />

presentation and display techniques.<br />

The next big thing — When working inside<br />

a company it can be difficult to come up<br />

with ‘eureka! moments’. Successful brands<br />

recognise the importance of creating an<br />

‘innovation culture’ to develop new products<br />

and retail formats to add commercial value to<br />

the business. We develop and run stimulating<br />

brand innovation events to engage teams in<br />

the creation of new ideas and approaches to<br />

transform store presentation and retail brand<br />

delivery.<br />

e-Learning<br />

Tools<br />

Open Training<br />

Events<br />

VM<br />

Measurement<br />

Virtual resources. Real world results — To hold<br />

our attention, learning tools must be engaging<br />

and easy to understand. Developed by an<br />

award-winning team, our learning tools come in<br />

a wide range of digital media. Subjects include<br />

store presentation, policy implementation,<br />

product launches, seasonal events, and customer<br />

service training for better brand delivery. Materials<br />

are presented in a user-friendly format and<br />

are superbly produced. Flexible and cost-effective,<br />

they may be used as a standalone learning<br />

resource or form part of a complete training<br />

solution.<br />

Right skills. Right time. Right price — Offered on<br />

a day attendance basis, our open training events<br />

offer a convenient and effective way to access<br />

the best in retail learning and development in<br />

a cost effective format. These open training<br />

events provide a risk-free way to develop the<br />

latest knowledge and skills, and are facilitated by<br />

our expert consultant team. Check our website<br />

for the current range of courses, venues and<br />

booking details.<br />

Clear insight. Considered action — Though good<br />

ideas may not be in short supply, retail success<br />

depends on deploying the right methods for<br />

the best commercial performance. Whether it’s<br />

your goal to increase brand engagement, drive<br />

sales or to improve profitability, our robust VM<br />

evaluation processes go beyond pure aesthetics<br />

to statistically quantify the commercial impact<br />

of VM. We can advise effective measurement<br />

processes and provide data gathering support to<br />

help make more informed decisions about the<br />

effective VM activities to adopt. Whether to<br />

prove the effectiveness of new VM methods in<br />

concept stores, or the right VM policies to rollout<br />

consistently to maximise return on investment<br />

from any company-wide VM programmes.

For more details visit visualthinking.co.uk<br />

or speak to a member of our consultant team on<br />

+44 (0)1788 543 331 to discuss your project needs.<br />

Super<br />

Stores<br />

We provide a range<br />

of effective retail<br />

consultancy services<br />

but, above all, it’s the<br />

lasting results that<br />

they deliver which our<br />

clients love most.<br />

VM & Retail<br />

Manuals<br />

Easy to read, actionable ideas — It’s a fact that<br />

well designed retail communications lead to<br />

better policy implementation. Written by retail<br />

experts and based on twenty years’ in-depth<br />

industry knowledge, our range of cost-effective<br />

VM materials includes policy documents and<br />

manuals, seasonal launch guidelines, VM<br />

planograms and training materials, developed<br />

with bespoke branded design and carefully<br />

considered text/policy content. We have vast<br />

experience of fulfilling our clients’ diverse VM<br />

communications needs, from brief to the final<br />

production of materials.<br />

VM Training &<br />

Development<br />

People power. Knowledge shared — High<br />

customer expectations and mounting<br />

competition mean that it’s more vital than ever<br />

to develop your instore teams. Well-trained and<br />

motivated people are shown to increase sales.<br />

Visual Thinking is the UK’s leading provider of<br />

instore retail training. Delivered by experts, our<br />

training sessions are stimulating and engaging<br />

and equip your team with the vital skills to<br />

succeed.<br />

See examples of our<br />

work, without leaving<br />

your desk. Visual<br />

Thinking is proud of the<br />

visible difference we’ve<br />

made to retail brands<br />

around the world. The<br />

long relationships we<br />

have with many of our<br />

clients, across a diverse<br />

range of sectors, are<br />

sustained by great work<br />

and great results that<br />

have helped them to<br />

drive improvements in<br />

product presentation,<br />

customer service and<br />

retail standards. Bringing<br />

together 20 years of<br />

brand delivery excellence,<br />

our website is home to<br />

a selection of the many<br />

instore projects that<br />

help tell our story and<br />

provide insight into our<br />

comprehensive range of<br />

VM and Retail services.<br />

From explaining the brief<br />

to exploring the solutions<br />

we recommended. All<br />

designed to meet our<br />

client’s exact business<br />

needs, every one of our<br />

projects is as individual as<br />

the brands we support.<br />

We hope you like our<br />

work.<br />

Learn more at<br />

visualthinking.co.uk/<br />

case-studies<br />

VM<br />

Recruitment<br />

Temporary VM<br />

Support<br />

Right people. Right skills — Finding talented<br />

VM people takes more than just knowing where<br />

to look. As VM specialists, we have unrivalled<br />

insight into the experience, capabilities and<br />

whereabouts of people who can fulfil VM<br />

leadership roles. We have direct access to the<br />

elite of the industry, and with our extensive CV<br />

database, can quickly identify candidates that<br />

will impress. From VM directors, specialist<br />

department managers, to field teams and storebased<br />

VM personnel, each candidate is carefully<br />

evaluated to match your business requirements.<br />

Our support has proved to be refreshingly<br />

different and highly effective compared to<br />

the services offered by general retail<br />

recruitment agencies.<br />

Expert help. As required — We provide skilled,<br />

temporary visual merchandising people to<br />

support all kinds of project needs, including<br />

seasonal VM and display scheme installation,<br />

store refurbishment and new openings,<br />

exhibition set-up and photo-shoot styling. We<br />

can also provide experienced people for longer<br />

term VM staffing needs such as maternity and<br />

holiday cover. Our service is flexible, reliable<br />

and competitively priced to support your VM<br />

delivery needs.

Thank You<br />

Checkout<br />

As each year passes we work with<br />

more great brands. It therefore seems only right that the<br />

final word should go to you. All of you who work with us,<br />

support us, and share our passion for the world of retail –<br />

past, present and future. Thanks, you’re priceless.<br />

Stay in touch with ideas,<br />

insights and images at<br />

our blog and via social<br />

media.<br />

Blog<br />

Expect authoritative views, candid<br />

commentary and lively debate and a<br />

celebration of all that’s best in international<br />

retail excellence as we put the spotlight on<br />

new stores, redesigns and re-launches.<br />

visualthinking.co.uk/blog<br />

Twitter<br />

Follow VT and stay ahead of all the new<br />

developments in visual merchandising and<br />

brand delivery from around the world, with<br />

on-the-ground retail reports, client project<br />

updates and the latest insider news.<br />

twitter.com/shoptactics<br />

Adidas<br />

Beretta<br />

B&Q<br />

Boots<br />

Burton<br />

Coast<br />

Coles<br />

Clarks<br />

Disney Store<br />

Hamleys<br />

Harley-Davidson<br />

Ikea<br />

Infiniti<br />

John Lewis<br />

Lee<br />

Marks & Spencer<br />

M&S International<br />

Mamas & Papas<br />

Matalan<br />

Lacoste<br />

Levi’s<br />

New Look<br />

O 2<br />

Oasis<br />

Office<br />

Reversed<br />

Sainsbury’s<br />

Sony<br />

Speedo<br />

Tesco<br />

Timberland<br />

The Co-operative<br />

Wilko<br />

Wrangler<br />

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Find us<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

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No.1 Spring Edition<br />

Published by Visual Thinking. All rights reserved.<br />

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. Copyright © 2014.

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