Counter Culture 5

Positive difference: Why there are plenty of reasons for retailers to move forward with optimism.

Positive difference: Why there are plenty of reasons for retailers to move forward with optimism.


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5<br />

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

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

shoptactics<br />

Come Together<br />

How to positively embrace store team<br />

diversity to achieve common goals.<br />

VM and Vigour<br />

The athleisure trend changing the<br />

appearance of sportswear VM in-store.<br />

Waste Not<br />

Maximising productivity by achieving<br />

a ‘right first time’ approach instore.<br />

How retailers will…<br />

Survive + Grow<br />


Positive retail transformation.<br />

No one takes stores from better to ‘best’ faster.<br />


5<br />

Contents<br />

06 The Leader<br />

Our managing director Karl McKeever introduces<br />

the thinking behind our special edition of <strong>Counter</strong><br />

<strong>Culture</strong>, and explains why there are plenty of reasons for<br />

those who have their heart, and professional reputations,<br />

set on delivering retail transformation to both think and<br />

act positively in the months ahead.<br />

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

08 Come together<br />

Age, gender, language, culture, interests, baselevel<br />

knowledge and skills – even the driver for working in<br />

retail at all. Stores are rich in diversity, but retailers must<br />

find ways to bring people together to towards<br />

a common goal.<br />

11<br />

Tastes<br />

change<br />

11 Tastes change<br />

15 Wonderful everyday<br />

Positive charge<br />

Go straight to the stories that will inspire retail<br />

performance, faster. Just look out for the battery<br />

icon inside.

5<br />

Contents<br />

Behaviour<br />

23 Best of times<br />

There is no such thing as a loyal shopper these days,<br />

23<br />

meaning retailers must now think differently.<br />

With psychology changing, the emphasis is now focusing<br />

Best of<br />

times<br />

on creating rewarding retail experiences to earn, rather<br />

than buy, shopper loyalty.<br />

28 Instantly gratifying<br />

53 Ups and downs<br />

31 Shelf esteem<br />

Physical<br />

34 VM and vigour<br />

38 Selling with sole<br />

44 Positively different<br />

Part of a much larger movement of gender liberation,<br />

the growth of unisex fashion poses serious questions for<br />

the traditional, rigidly gendered retail sales markets of<br />

menswear and womenswear.<br />

59 Moments of happiness

5<br />

Contents<br />

Climate<br />

62 Waste not<br />

As business costs continue to rise, retailers can no<br />

62<br />

longer afford to waste investment, hours and effort<br />

through failure to achieve a ‘right first time’<br />

Waste<br />

approach instore.<br />

not<br />

69 A new leaf<br />

73 Filling a gap<br />

68 Body confidence<br />

Travel<br />

47 Small wonders<br />

Over in Finland, retailer Costo is one of many aspiring,<br />

cool entrepreneurial brands proving that sustainability<br />

can be good for business, and for the planet.<br />

Offcuts have never been sexier.<br />

50 All change in NYC<br />

55 Capital gains<br />

Visual Thinking<br />

We have been at the forefront of accelerating retail transformation and implementing<br />

instore best practice for almost 25 years. Retail Excellence is in our agency’s DNA;<br />

delivering clear, consistent and integrated visual retail standards to improve retail<br />

performance.<br />

Let’s talk: +44 (0) 2080 506 028<br />

www.visualthinking.co.uk<br />

#shoptactics<br />

Published by<br />

Visual Thinking Limited<br />


Leader<br />

Good news: <strong>Counter</strong> <strong>Culture</strong> is back. And the emphasis for this<br />

issue is most definitely on the positive.<br />

The debate about the health of UK retail is, like in so many<br />

countries around the world, often tinged with a sense of negative<br />

foreboding. While these are clearly difficult times (we’ll be avoiding<br />

talk of Brexit), for those of you who seek proof that better is<br />

possible, there are many stories of positive retail change to be<br />

found. Sales are soaring at Zara, while value giant B&M recently<br />

announced an impressive leap in pre-tax profits. Homeware brand<br />

Sheridan has enjoyed a 31 per cent sales uplift thanks to new<br />

store-ready VM policies. In the telco sector, O2 has increased<br />

compliance to visual store standards by a staggering 32 per cent.<br />

There’s more good news. 80 per cent of retail executives say their<br />

business understands the need for transformation.* Yet less than<br />

half know the capabilities needed to make their transformation<br />

journey a success. And just 24 per cent say they know what<br />

transformation looks like on a day-to-day basis.<br />

Thankfully, it’s a ‘solvable problem’. But be warned: if you don’t<br />

deliver positive and effective retail transformation at store level,<br />

others will. Our experience of accelerating improvements in<br />

retail performance helps to deliver winning instore experiences,<br />

repeatedly and consistently.<br />

It’s time for positive action. Are you with us?<br />

Karl McKeever, founder – karl@visualthinking.co.uk<br />

*The DNA of the Retailers of the Tomorrow report,<br />

unveiled at the World Retail Congress, Dubai, April 2017.<br />


If you don’t change<br />

the future, others will.<br />

See the difference<br />

Retail transformation,<br />

from the people who<br />

have been making<br />

better possible<br />

for 25 years.<br />

visualthinking.co.uk<br />


Come<br />

together<br />

Words by:<br />

Tina Emerson<br />

Image:<br />

Liam Cooper<br />

Share<br />


Rich in diversity, store teams must also<br />

work together to achieve common goals.<br />

“What unites us is far greater than what divides<br />

us.” Given recent events, those words – first<br />

uttered by President Kennedy in 1961 – have<br />

perhaps never been more appropriate.<br />

Whoever has responsibility for implementing<br />

change programs at store level, they have a<br />

huge job on their hands. A diverse team will<br />

inherently create a working environment where<br />

ideas and approaches will be challenged. At the<br />

A quick scan of today’s headlines can portray<br />

an obsession with focusing self-interest rather<br />

than common goals. The current US president<br />

is certainly doing little to help on that score.<br />

Thankfully, a renewed spirit of both community<br />

and non-conformity is clearly evident too.<br />

right level this can lead to the most efficient and<br />

creative solutions to the biggest problems. But<br />

at a store implementation level, it can have quite<br />

the opposite effect – leading to an inconsistent<br />

brand experience and, worse still, a negative<br />

and costly impact on operational productivity.<br />

If Donald Trump were a retailer, he’d no doubt<br />

have very different views on inclusiveness.<br />

Diversity courses deeply through the veins of<br />

retail. Even for those who operate in a single<br />

country, the one thing all retailers have in<br />

common is there is no one defining definition of<br />

who works in a store. Age, gender, language,<br />

culture, interests, base-level knowledge and<br />

skills – even the driver for being in a store at<br />

all – retail has one of most diverse working<br />

populations in industry. This presents a major<br />

challenge for retailers when it comes to rallying<br />

team members around a goal.<br />

It is a recognised fact that a one-size-fits-all has<br />

had its day. So why do so few retailer<br />

transformation programs reflect this? For<br />

stores to thrive that needs to change. Only<br />

by supporting store teams with flexible retail<br />

and VM training – delivered using a variety of<br />

channels that take into account differences in<br />

knowledge, skills<br />

and learning needs – will retailers be able to<br />

positively influence the “collective mood” but<br />

also ensure retail policy, VM guidelines, and<br />

expectations are clearly communicated and<br />

universally understood<br />

Tina Emerson is learning and development manager at Visual Thinking.<br />


Image: The O2 Visual Excellence program has seen<br />

a 34% in compliance<br />

Image: Harley-Davidson’s global VM program has<br />

achieved best practice buy-in around the world<br />

View projects<br />

Image: John Lewis 2017<br />

“National Treasures” summer campaign<br />


Tastes<br />

Change<br />

Supermarkets ability to keep<br />

things fresh is about to be<br />

put to the ultimate test.<br />

Words by: Suzanne Tanner<br />

Image: Verena Yunita Yapi<br />

Share<br />


Image: The new concept for supermarket chain<br />

Solera opened in Cologne, Germany in March<br />

this year © Masquespacio<br />

The sector could be<br />

set for the biggest<br />

change of all.<br />


Image: Summer Hill Supermarket, Sydney © loopcreative<br />

A good supermarket can make a huge impact on our quality of life, with the very best providing<br />

much more than basic sustenance; the City Market “urban concept” neighbourhood grocery store<br />

from Canadian chain Loblaws is a fine example of this, with its compact yet refreshing and edgy<br />

retail experience. Then there’s Coop’s Supermarket Of The Future at Bicocca Village in Milan, and<br />

the Help-yourself Herb Garden concept from Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn.<br />

This is a sector that witnesses constant transformation. From non-food and then online growth, to<br />

sustainability and provenance, self-scan technology, the shift towards all things discount, or even a<br />

bit a instore farming. Visual Thinking is even busy supporting a certain upmarket UK grocery chain<br />

at this very moment, helping it transform visual presentation instore.<br />

But now, the sector could be set for the biggest change of all. Enter Amazon.<br />

While grocery-restaurant hybrid Eataly has grown its business by advocating the “slow-food”<br />

movement, Amazon is all about speed. And it appears to quickly be getting serious about grocery.<br />

Its recent offer to buy the one-time darling of the grocery world, US chain Whole Foods Market, is a<br />

clear signal of intent.<br />


Image: Loblaw’s Independent CityMarket concept,<br />

Toronto<br />

Image: Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market<br />

signals a watershed moment for the sector<br />

Image from: Albert Heijn XL Help-yourself Herb<br />

Garden in Amsterdam © studiomfd<br />

Back in the UK, the lateness of Morrisons arrival into online grocery was seen in many ways as a<br />

negative for the retailer. But perhaps for them, the ‘Cloud’ could literally offer a silver lining. Having<br />

observed the successes and challenges endured by others, it announced an online tie-up with<br />

Amazon in November last year; a decision that is looking increasingly smart based on developments<br />

in the US. The move saw the launch of a new “Morrisons at Amazon” 1-hour delivery service for Prime<br />

Members in selected areas.<br />

Amazon may be a relative latecomer to the UK online grocery market but, given the opportunity, it<br />

is a business that undoubtedly has the ability to innovate in this space and deliver “game-changing”<br />

transformation. The one thing they don’t have is grocery expertise. But they are evolving, fast.<br />

Meanwhile, instead of figuring out the innovation piece, the major supermarkets have been consumed<br />

by seemingly endless focus on price. They aren’t naïve though, and surely realise that the time for<br />

fresh thinking is now – before Amazon really comes knocking<br />

Suzanne Tanner is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – suzanne@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


Wonderful<br />

everyday<br />

Words by:<br />

Kirsty Kean<br />

Image:<br />

Jason Briscoe<br />

Share<br />


IKEA is a brand apart. Never afraid to<br />

embrace novel ideas, its success story<br />

is not just down to the products it sells,<br />

but also its ability to form meaningful<br />

connections with customers, employees,<br />

and wider society. Its DNA has remained<br />

unchanged since Ingvar Kamprad founded<br />

the company – accessible and functional<br />

solutions that are meant to improve<br />

everyday life, in a uniquely IKEA way. Today,<br />

the Kamprad family (one of the richest in<br />

the world) is still committed to key values<br />

surrounding quality, differences, loyalty,<br />

and sustainability. Here is a company doing<br />

genuinely transformative things – in store<br />

and out. There are countless examples,<br />

but we have chosen just a few to highlight.<br />


iStock<br />

Everything we put out there has purpose.<br />


View projects<br />

Image: Visual Thinking helped IKEA share best practice across Russia<br />

Retail training workshops<br />

Everything IKEA does is rooted in improving everyday life. Naturally, that applies to<br />

the working lives of its retail teams, as well as to the lives of shoppers in the home.<br />

The instore experience is a big part of the Swedish brand, but how do you replicate<br />

that worldwide? We know the most effective way to deliver training is in person,<br />

so we travelled to Russia, to IKEA’s subsidiary stores – sharing our knowledge and<br />

understanding with teams to help bring the famed IKEA experience to life.<br />

Keen to foster a great understanding of the shopper journey and mindset, IKEA<br />

Russia worked with Visual Thinking to spearhead a series of retail development<br />

workshops, using group activities and digital media to lay down the foundations for<br />

retailexcellence that would transcend borders and language, driving more effective<br />

team buy-in to the brand’s purpose, policies and practices within each store.<br />

Since its inception, IKEA has been able to share best practice across Russia, with<br />

trained teams able to use learning to give shoppers a better, more engaging retail<br />

experience in every store, every day.<br />



Festival ready<br />

“We want to bring smiles to people’s faces,”<br />

explains UK menswear designer Kit Neale.<br />

He’s currently hot property in British design, and<br />

the man behind IKEA’s limited edition SPRIDD<br />

festival range.<br />

Like navigating line-ups and stages at music<br />

festivals this summer, the importance of getting<br />

your instore campaign right is undeniable.<br />

Image: IKEA festival range, Birmingham<br />

Not only do retailers often have to negotiate the<br />

British weather with deftness, but they must<br />

also find ways to deliver a credible, well-curated<br />

summer story instore.<br />

First launched in Australia at the end of 2016,<br />

IKEA’s limited edition SPRIDD collection is<br />

energetic, chaotic and young. Music and<br />

mobility are the starting points for SPRIDD.<br />

Inspired by loosely interpreted music styles, Kit<br />

Neale and IKEA have created four expressions<br />

that are still part of one and the same<br />

print-it-out-loud collection.<br />

Image: British menswear designer Kit Neale for IKEA<br />


Home Sweet Home<br />

The concept of the company town model is not new.<br />

In the late 19th Century, Czech shoe company Bata<br />

built a number of towns across the world, including<br />

in the UK. As well as a job, the company also leased<br />

modernist houses to their employees. In Bata-ville,<br />

as these company towns were known, even the<br />

schools, cinemas and social events were all run by<br />

the company.<br />

Now IKEA is getting in on the game, building 34<br />

affordable micro-apartments in the Icelandic capital<br />

Reykjavik for employees. The cost of buying or<br />

renting a home has become a hot topic in Reykjavik,<br />

where a tourist boom has seen prices skyrocket.<br />

“We have set the benchmark high for others to<br />

follow, which hopefully leads to higher standards,”<br />

says Thor Aevarsson, country manager of IKEA<br />

Iceland. “The total look and final result should speak<br />

strong IKEA language.”<br />

Bournville, established by George Cadbury in 1893,<br />

still remains the most famous example in the UK.<br />

Created for workers at his chocolate factory, it is<br />

home to 25,000 residents today. Strict guidelines<br />

dictate what residents can and cannot do to their<br />

properties. Hedges must be kept to a certain<br />

height, while front door colours and other aesthetic<br />

details are regulated. The guidelines may seem<br />

stuffy to some, but for the majority of residents they<br />

are a small price to pay for quality surroundings,<br />

better living standards, and a strong sense of<br />


Image: IKEA’s emergency shelter homes was named Winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year Award<br />

Refugee and shelter<br />

According to the UNHCR, the number of<br />

refugees now tops 65 million people. It’s<br />

a staggering figure, a huge humanitarian<br />

challenge, and one that could easily overwhelm<br />

even the most committed.<br />

But perhaps the question should be: why was<br />

it so long coming? Finally, someone thought,<br />

“Who do we know who can mass produced<br />

easy-to-assemble furniture for the home, in<br />

a way that is easy to transport, and that can<br />

whack it out cheaply?” It just goes to show that<br />

But for many who have been displaced, IKEA’s<br />

flatpack refugee shelter may finally offer a<br />

symbol of hope. Winner of the Beazley Designs<br />

of the Year Award, the emergency shelter homes<br />

– a brand collaboration with the UN – offer<br />

if you want new thinking and a transformative<br />

solution, you should bring someone in who are<br />

specialists in that discipline with the expertise<br />

and knowledge to deliver solutions that work –<br />

imaginatively, effectively and cost-affordably<br />

safety and security. They can be assembled in<br />

4 hours, have a lifespan of 3 yearas and, most<br />

significantly of all, they can be locked – enabling<br />

refugees to protect their possessions, and<br />

delivering a unique piece of dignity.<br />

Kirsty Kean is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – kirsty@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


Best<br />

of times<br />

The psychology behind<br />

loyalty schemes is changing<br />

with the emphasis now<br />

much more on retailers<br />

Words by: Jo Roberts<br />

Image: Andrew Welch<br />

Share<br />


There is no such thing as a loyal shopper<br />

these days, meaning retailers must now<br />

think differently.<br />

The average person has more than three loyalty<br />

cards in their wallet. That said, many just end up<br />

gathering dust. Today, shoppers would rather<br />

cross the street to buy from a competitor that<br />

offers a better deal than ‘earn’ a few points they<br />

may never redeem. Research by TCC Global<br />

reports significant loyalty card fatigue, with 61<br />

The combination of straitened times and the<br />

rapid growth of online shopping has given<br />

shoppers more freedom to shop around, and<br />

motivated them to ditch brands which don’t<br />

provide a truly rewarding brand experience – in<br />

the US, it is reported that up to a fifth of all US<br />

shoppers feel brands take them for granted.<br />

per cent of shoppers saying that they<br />

“want to feel rewarded for loyalty by more than<br />

just another loyalty card”.<br />

Savvy retailers understand the need to earn<br />

shopper loyalty, rather than effectively paying<br />

them for it through standard programmes<br />

Supermarkets have been hit particularly hard<br />

by this ‘disloyalty’ trend, as more of us brandhop<br />

to get the best deals. Kantar Worldpanel<br />

suggests shoppers are happy to visit five<br />

different supermarket brands in any<br />

given month.<br />

designed to build brand devotion. As a result,<br />

businesses from luxury department stores<br />

through to cafés and hotel chains are rethinking<br />

loyalty altogether. Harvey Nichols has launched<br />

a loyalty app called Rewards, which uses data<br />

and location information to give shoppers<br />

personalised and “surprising” experiences.<br />

The challenge of wooing this so called<br />

promiscuous shopper is nothing new, but it has<br />

been heightened since the global recession.<br />

The department store hopes that these more<br />

memorable experiences will keep shoppers<br />

coming back.<br />

Jo Roberts is the current head of content marketing for Centaur Media. Previously, she has held the roles of editor with National<br />

Grocery Buyer, editor and deputy features editor of Marketing Week, and features writer for Brand Strategy magazine.<br />


Image: The Benetton Pop Up Cube, Milan engaged over 2000 people with an average age of 28 years.<br />

But this move towards a more emotional<br />

connection with shoppers is not just confined<br />

to loyalty programmes but has shifted into the<br />

wider instore experience too.<br />

terms of ‘hard’ elements, such as store design,<br />

finishes, materials, or even above-the-line<br />

advertising carry-through, but by focusing on<br />

the ‘soft power’ – personalisation, ease of shop,<br />

visual merchandising, customer service, and<br />

Almost 90 per cent of shoppers say a great brand<br />

experience is key to driving loyalty, according<br />

to Econsultancy. Creating real emotional<br />

engagement is key to this. “The idea that we<br />

always have to have a loyalty programme –<br />

brand standards. Katie Baron, head of retail<br />

at trends and research agency Stylus, says<br />

this approach is going to be key to the future<br />

success of retail as “experience will be the key<br />

brand differentiator” on the high street.<br />

I just want to break that,” believes Nathan Watts,<br />

creative director of retail design agency FITCH.<br />

“There are other ways to generate that loyalty. It’s<br />

about rewarding a visit.” He adds that brands<br />

and agencies need to think: “How do we be<br />

generous to our shoppers when they’re in the<br />

store?”<br />

Put simply, the days of shopper excitement over<br />

the number of points they have on their store<br />

cards may be well and truly over. But by creating<br />

shopper-centric instore experiences, retailers will<br />

find they attract a more engaged and passionate<br />

wave of brand loyalists – guaranteed to be very<br />

rewarding to the bottom line<br />

One way is to invest in the brand experience<br />

that shoppers are exposed to instore. Not in<br />


Image: WOSJH, Amsterdam<br />

Almost 90 per cent of<br />

shoppers say a great brand<br />

experience is key to<br />

driving loyalty.<br />


Yesterday.<br />

Now.<br />

Tomorrow.<br />


Instantly<br />

gratifying<br />

Millennials want to jump<br />

straight in and enjoy today<br />

instead of waiting for what<br />

might be tomorrow.<br />

Words by: Kate Nightingale<br />

Image: Jakob Owens<br />

Share<br />


Millennials are an impatient, ‘live for the<br />

moment’, dopamine-addicted generation.<br />

Right? I’m not a fan of putting people into<br />

boxes. As a psychologist, and more simply<br />

as a human, I know that boxes are never a<br />

holistic or exhaustive description of a person.<br />

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that, in an<br />

attempt to understand the next generation of<br />

consumers and their sometimes seemingly<br />

‘other-worldly ways’, marketers try to put them<br />

into a box.<br />

The one common trait that does seem to define<br />

all Millennials is their ability to multi-task.<br />

As the first ‘wave’ of digital natives, having never<br />

known a world without connected devices, they<br />

are, arguably, better at it than any generation<br />

that has gone before. From the point of view<br />

of brand engagement, this creates a problem.<br />

Rarely focused on one task, and almost never<br />

disengaged from their mobile or tablet devices,<br />

they are in a constant state of partial attention.<br />


Millennials are looking for brands which<br />

help them add value to their lives.<br />

Having grown up in a world where you can get anything you want, instantly,<br />

the macro social influences that shaped their lives certainly seem to back<br />

up this view of Millennials. Every parent wants their children to have more<br />

opportunities and a better life than they had. Millennials’ parents gave them<br />

plenty of things and experiences they never had. As a result, Millennials were<br />

over-saturated with materialism.<br />

But they have had another influence which shaped them – terrorism<br />

and violence. More and more frequent reminders of mortality have<br />

subconsciously influenced them to focus on the moment and squeeze<br />

the most out of it, because there might not be a tomorrow. Indeed, many<br />

spiritual leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, advocate this as a way to<br />

achieve ultimate wellbeing. Taking all this into account, it’s easy to see<br />

why Millennials might in fact avoid life by further addicting themselves to<br />

technology or experiences. Millennials are looking for brands which help<br />

them add value to their lives – whether it’s changing the world, improving<br />

their self-esteem, learning new skills, or creating new relationships. Apple’s<br />

seminars and LEGO Ideas are two great examples of this thinking in action.<br />

While media focus may already have turned to Gen Z, successfully<br />

connecting with Millennials remains vital for the majority of mainstream high<br />

street retailers. Greater emphasis must be placed on bringing the symbolic<br />

meaning behind the brand to life instore, rather than simply selling the ‘why’,<br />

and on embracing their keenness to share their opinions – Millennials place<br />

greater value on those who listen to them. So be curious. Never assume.<br />

Ask. Listen to truly understand. Millennials have made the conscious choice<br />

to enjoy every moment now rather than hope they will when they retire. If<br />

retailers are to get Millennials to lift their heads from their electronic devices,<br />

then they too must continue to think differently<br />

Kate Nightingale is a consumer, fashion and brand psychologist founder, and CEO of Style Psychology<br />


Shelf<br />

esteem<br />

The impact of<br />

mental wellbeing<br />

Words by:<br />

Lisa Lawson<br />

on happiness and<br />

productivity is well<br />

known, but too<br />

often skirted.<br />

Share<br />

This will leave you speechless. The impact<br />

of mental health is evident. It costs the UK<br />

an estimated £105bn per year*. 94 per cent<br />

of Millennials say they identify with feeling<br />

“overwhelmed” and actively want help to<br />

for it. WHSmith may be the world’s oldest national<br />

retail chain, and often lambasted for the physical<br />

state of some of its store estate, but in this<br />

respect both its leader and the retailer are clearly<br />

demonstrating a progressive attitude.<br />

make decisions they can trust, but the stigma<br />

surrounding mental ill health remains.<br />

Elsewhere, comedian and campaigner Ruby Wax<br />

In today’s fast-paced, highly pressured<br />

environment, opportunities to take stock, to see<br />

things with fresh and clear eyes, and think – really<br />

think – are few and far between. And yet we all<br />

has teamed up with M&S to launch the not-forprofit<br />

Frazzled Café – creating communal spaces<br />

within M&S stores that give people who are<br />

overwhelmed by modern life a chance to come<br />

together.<br />

know a positive state of mind is key to achieving<br />

goals.<br />

Like so many things, being able to take the first<br />

steps to thinking differently and creating positive<br />

As part of projects to mark its 225th anniversary,<br />

WHSmith is investing £250,000 to train 1,000<br />

store managers in Mental Health First Aid. In an<br />

interview in The Telegraph earlier this year, CEO<br />

Steve Clarke talked openly about how mental<br />

affected his family – something that’s rare for a<br />

FTSE CEO to do, and he should be applauded<br />

changes relies on developing a truly inclusive<br />

environment where open communication is<br />

championed, and people feel able to share and<br />

discuss ideas and issues, as well as giving people<br />

the support they need to realise their true potential<br />

and end every day with a sense of worth and<br />

fulfillment<br />

Lisa Lawson is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – lisa@visualthinking.co.uk<br />


Image: Celebrity Ruby Wax launched Frazzled café<br />

concept with M&S<br />

Image: The Body Shop Super Food Masks window display, London.<br />


One word,<br />

can end a fight.<br />

One moment,<br />

can transform<br />

a brand.<br />


VM and<br />

vigour<br />

Athleisure promises a more relaxed future,<br />

although its giving retailers a workout too.<br />

Words by: Katy Trodd<br />

Image: Dan Gold<br />

Share<br />


Image: The Canadian athletic apparel retailer Lululemon first launched in 1998<br />

Exercise can be transformative for the body. And it appears more and more of us are hoping that<br />

just looking like we’re at the gym has a similar same effect.<br />

According to research by the Australian Sporting Goods Association, activewear enables females<br />

to move more positively. Ideologies aside, athleisure is a hot commodity in fashion retail right now.<br />

Globally, it’s a market worth £213bn, led by the likes of Lululemon, Manuka Life, and Nike, with<br />

its powerful ‘If you have a body, you are an athlete’ message. While Lululemon has, arguably,<br />

developed the handwriting for how to deliver the retail offer in this sector, mainstream retailers<br />

such as Topshop, H&M, UNIQLO, Carbon38, Varley, and even discount supermarket chain Aldi,<br />

are trying to capitalise on this global fashion phenomenon and take a slice of the pie (served<br />

with low fat cream, of course). As a result, the athleisure marketplace has become<br />

somewhat crowded.<br />

But getting it right is far from plain sailing. Some industry commentators noted that Lululemon’s<br />

spring collection failed to translate its design vision with sufficient authority through VM instore.<br />

Meanwhile, Canadian casualwear brand Kit and Ace, founded by the family behind Lululemon,<br />

has recently closed its stores in the UK, Australia and the US. Its decision highlights the difficulties<br />

that can exist when there are two brands in the same space, doing the same thing. Irrespective<br />

of how great the product maybe, both examples show how important it is for retailers to put in<br />

the hard work – capturing valuable insight into how differentiation can be expressed instore,<br />

and delivered effectively. Only then will retailers be in the best possible shape for the future<br />

Katy Trodd is retail project manager at Visual Thinking – katy.trodd@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


Image: Lululemon’s UK flagship on London’s Regent<br />

Street<br />

Image: Lane Crawford, Hong Kong<br />

Image: Lululemon, Spitalfields, London<br />

Image: Kit & Ace store in Toronto, Canada<br />


Athleisure is a hot<br />

commodity in fashion<br />

retail right now.<br />

Globally, it’s a market<br />

worth £213bn.<br />

Image: Paul Smith Sport pop-up, Bicester Village, Oxfordshire<br />


Selling<br />

with sole<br />

With men’s shoe collections growing, brands<br />

are keen to put their best foot forward.<br />

Words by: Alfred Tong<br />

Share<br />


Men are becoming more adventurous and<br />

engaged with fashion and, correspondingly,<br />

with footwear as a result.<br />

The stereotype of the shoe-mad (female)<br />

fashionista is being turned on its head.<br />

Research from Mintel shows that men aged<br />

25-44 are now more likely than women of<br />

the same age to be motivated to update<br />

their footwear because of a new fashion<br />

trend. The numbers tell a story of men<br />

becoming more adventurous and engaged<br />

with fashion and, correspondingly, with<br />

footwear as a result. Much of this growth<br />

can be put down to the rising popularity<br />

of trainers and casual, fashion inspired<br />

shoes: “Sneakers are to men what designer<br />

handbags were to women: items which<br />

have huge cultural and design cache,”<br />

says DJ Kish Kash, London’s most prolific<br />

trainer collector, whose own collection<br />

totals almost 2,000 pairs.<br />


Image: Cheaney Shoes offers a club-like gentlemen’s<br />

outfitters environment<br />

Image: Cheaney Shoes, Covent Garden<br />


According to Mintel’s research, 52% of people<br />

want retailers to help them find a better fit.<br />

Brands such as Red Wing, Clarks Originals,<br />

Timberland and Dr Martens also have huge<br />

appeal for men who are into trainers, explains<br />

Kash.“For instance, Clarks Originals, say a pair<br />

of Wallabees, sit somewhere in the middle of the<br />

formality spectrum. If you had a venn diagram<br />

there’d be brogues on one side and trainers<br />

on the other. A pair of Dr Martens or Wallabees<br />

would sit bang in the middle. It’s a sweet spot<br />

because it helps men to dress for a variety of<br />

According to Mintel research, the biggest<br />

challenges for shoppers instore is finding the<br />

right ‘fit’. 52% of people want retailers to do<br />

more to help them. The investment being made<br />

by the likes of schuh in technology not only<br />

makes the instore experience more efficient, it<br />

also allows retail teams to do what counts: to<br />

offer expertise and advice, acting as a kind of<br />

instore influencer rather than running to and fro<br />

from the stockroom.<br />

social situations, without the stuffiness of a fully<br />

English leather shoe.”<br />

In London, start-up shoe company Baudoin &<br />

Lange make a version of the Belgian Slipper, a<br />

Currently, the mantle of Leading UK Footwear<br />

Brand belongs to Clarks. One of the ways in<br />

which it has successfully achieved this is with the<br />

rollout of its ‘Clarks Originals’ lines, all of which<br />

have huge cult appeal from their association<br />

with youth culture in Britain, Jamaica, and the<br />

US. Clarks Originals taps into the trend for<br />

authenticity, craftsmanship and heritage, at a<br />

lightweight loafer, which was once a favourite<br />

of New York WASPs (Bernie Madoff owned 300<br />

pairs). “Our product is a staple like the Tod’s or<br />

Gucci loafer, or Warby Parker glasses. We offer<br />

the same shoe in different colours and materials.<br />

So that makes it easier to offer consistent sizing.<br />

Sizing and fit are a crucial issue,” explains the<br />

brand’s founder, Bo van Langeveld.<br />

relatively accessible price point of £90-£110. But<br />

analysts believe it has to do more to keep up<br />

with current trends.<br />


In spite of some challenges, the men’s footwear<br />

market, as with menswear as a whole, is ripe<br />

with opportunity<br />


It’s a space that encourages<br />

shoppers to appreciate the<br />

handcrafting and skill that<br />

goes into making quality shoes.<br />

For sheer theatricality and service, few stores<br />

beat Crep Protect in London’s Fitzrovia.<br />

It isn’t even a shoe brand, but a type of sneaker<br />

cleaning product. Rare, exclusive and collectible<br />

trainers sit upon Jenga-style bricks that jut out<br />

of the wall and move along conveyor belts,<br />

while screens display stock market-style ticker<br />

tape showing the rise and fall of prices in the<br />

international sneaker market. The store also<br />

offers a cleaning service with which to fully<br />

History, tradition and craftsmanship are the<br />

themes for the design and interior of the<br />

Cheaney Shoes flagship in Covent Garden. It’s a<br />

space that encourages shoppers to appreciate<br />

the handcrafting and skill that goes into making<br />

quality shoes. Shoe lasts adorn the walls like an<br />

art installation, while leather swatches, soles,<br />

stitching etc., are housed in glass cabinets. It’s<br />

a stylised Northamptonshire workshop brought<br />

into the heart of central London.<br />

refurbish trainers – using Crep Protect, of course.<br />

In spite of challenges (best illustrated by the<br />

While other shops such as Grenson and Oliver<br />

Sweeney make use of photographs of men in<br />

aprons polishing shoes, and have the odd tool<br />

scattered around a mock in-store workshop,<br />

atelier George Cleverley has no need: bespoke<br />

shoes are actually still made here entirely by<br />

near collapse and last minute rescue of Jones<br />

Bootmaker and Brantano earlier this year), these<br />

– and there are more – fine examples of best<br />

practice in men’s footwear retailing illustrate a<br />

sector which is in rude health, and ripe with both<br />

instore creativity and opportunity<br />

hand. Cleverley’s exclusive collaboration for<br />

online men’s retailer MR PORTER and the MR<br />

PORTER X Kingsman spy film franchise has<br />

recently brought its ready-to-wear shoes to a<br />

wider audience.<br />

Alfred Tong is a journalist, trend forecaster and brand consultant who has written for The Times, The Face, Timeout,<br />

Harpers Bazaar and Esquire. He has also consulted for American Express, Ralph Lauren, Nike and Thomas Pink.<br />


Positively<br />

different<br />

Words by: Katy Trodd<br />

Image: Adam Littman Davis<br />

Share<br />


The liberation of gender roles could also<br />

deconstruct traditional approaches to VM.<br />

Bowie, Prince, Grace Jones, Lady Gaga…hell,<br />

even Miley Cyrus – anyone who doesn’t care<br />

for labels, defiantly bends rules and gloriously<br />

challenges stereotypes is to be celebrated.<br />

Progressive brands, such Toogood London,<br />

TILLYandWILLIAM and FLAVNT Streetwear<br />

are leading the way in gender-neutral clothing,<br />

while Selfridges celebrated fashion without<br />

definition with its Agender shop-in-shop<br />

Once viewed as counter-cultural, gender<br />

blending isn’t new or even a trend per se.<br />

Despite some (Mr Piers Morgan) calling nonbinary<br />

identification a “fad”, Bowie was offering<br />

a different way of being a man or a woman –<br />

and the idea that you didn’t have to choose –<br />

back in the 1970s. Today, Gaga encourages<br />

her followers to embrace their “individuality”,<br />

concept. Last year also saw Zara launch its<br />

‘ungendered’ line of garments in 29 stores<br />

across the UK. Some criticised the retailer for<br />

using cisgendered models to present the range,<br />

rather than anyone gender non-confirming, and<br />

questioned just how ‘bold’ the move really was<br />

– arguing that genderless should not simply<br />

equal plain t-shirts and sweatpants.<br />

promoting fashion, makeup and heels for all,<br />

regardless of gender.<br />

If more brands continue to embrace androgyny,<br />

it could lead to a fundamental instore<br />

Part of a much larger movement of unisex<br />

fashion, the shifting of gender boundaries poses<br />

serious questions for the traditional, rigidly<br />

gendered retail sales markets of menswear and<br />

womenswear. A report by agency J. Walter<br />

Thompson found that only 44 per cent of Gen<br />

transformation – the end of traditional instore<br />

segregation – requiring retailers to explore how<br />

clothing ranges could be merchandised more<br />

fluidly. It would also mean that brands could<br />

potentially sell twice… just think about that for a<br />

minute<br />

Z shoppers buy clothing designed for their<br />

own gender. It was also revealed last year that<br />

around 80 UK state schools were allowing pupils<br />

to wear agender uniforms.<br />

Katy Trodd is retail project manager at Visual Thinking – katy.trodd@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


PRIDE<br />

WINS<br />

Wilko ‘House Proud’ initiative +18% YOY sales increase<br />

Achieving ‘Best in Class’ retail standards – in every store, every day.<br />


Costo is one of Helsinki’s many<br />

aspiring, cool entrepreneurial brands.<br />

Offcuts have never been sexier.<br />

Words by: Karl McKeever<br />

Share<br />

Small<br />

wonders<br />

Much is made of the Nordic commitment to<br />

recycling. Tax breaks are available to Swedes<br />

who repair rather than throw away, for example<br />

– the nation sends less than 1 per cent of<br />

waste to landfill each year. In fact, Sweden is<br />

so effective at recycling that processing plants<br />

import rubbish.<br />

Over in Finland, one retailer is also proving<br />

that sustainability can be good for business,<br />

and for the planet. Tucked away in Helsinki,<br />

accessories brand Costo (not Costco) is the<br />

brainchild of three Finnish designers, who began<br />

purchasing industry leftover materials to craft<br />

sustainable products at low cost. Driven by the<br />

belief that ‘fewer, better’ is better than ‘more,<br />

cheaper’, Costo products can now be found<br />

in stores across Finland, including the capital’s<br />

Stockmann department store. Last year, the<br />

brand launched its first concept store.<br />

Made using carefully selected industrial off-cut<br />

materials from furniture and fashion production,<br />

the exceptional hats, bags and other accessories<br />

are far from being a patchwork of recycled<br />

materials – they are beautifully designed, with<br />

a clean Nordic style in vibrant shades. This<br />

attention to detail is also carefully woven into<br />

product presentation instore. Hats line the walls,<br />

equally spaced to create an impactful product<br />

collage. Store teams clearly have a good eye<br />

for pattern and colour, while retail standards<br />

are high throughout. If its concept store fails to<br />

inspire you (although that’s unlikely), the story<br />

behind the brand and every one of its products<br />

most certainly will. This really is an enviable store,<br />

from a brand that we will hopefully see, and hear,<br />

much more from in the future<br />


The exceptional hats,<br />

bags and other<br />

accessories are far from<br />

being a patchwork of<br />

recycled materials.<br />


Follow Karl on Twitter @karlmckeever.<br />

Leftover material is purchased in small quantities and<br />

in this manner; COSTO can sort the remnants and use<br />

only the highest quality of fabrics in our “hats”.<br />


All change<br />

in NYC<br />

It may have been named twice, but<br />

New Yorkers appetite for urban<br />

transformation is seemingly limitless.<br />

Words by: Karl McKeever<br />

Image: Ellie Pritts<br />

Share<br />


A few years ago SoHo was the talk of the town –<br />

a ‘trendy retro’ neighbourhood where all the big<br />

name designer brands and national retailers wanted<br />

to be seen.<br />


It’s the city that never sleeps. But on my most<br />

recent visit, it appeared to be snoozing. It was<br />

quiet – eerily so. It may boast some of the world’s<br />

most dynamic retail, but where had all the<br />

shoppers gone?<br />

The absence was most noticeable in SoHo. An area in flux, rent and rates<br />

are ravaging the area, a clutch of boarded-up stores the inevitable outcome.<br />

NYC is a fiercely competitive environment where trends come and go<br />

without celebration.<br />

The constant transformation that’s visible across the city – and further afield in<br />

Brooklyn, with its thriving indie scene – is fascinating to observe. And in spite of<br />

the densely populated cityscape feeling like it is already full to bursting, somehow it<br />

keeps finding ways, and the space, to surprise and delight inhabitants and visitors.<br />

Next year, all eyes will turn to the regeneration of Hudson Yards. In the nexus of<br />

Chelsea and Midtown West, it is the epicentre of Manhattan’s New West Side –<br />

boasting the much-celebrated High Line. This neighbourhood is booming. The<br />

transformation of the grungy Lower Manhattan neighbourhood, one of Manhattan’s<br />

last undeveloped areas, is already looking stunning – a clear demonstration that,<br />

like the Hudson river, everything has a natural ebb and flow that may bring bad<br />

times, but also good<br />

Karl McKeever is founder and managing director of Visual Thinking – karl@visualthinking.<br />

co.uk Follow him on Twitter @karlmckeever.<br />


Ups and<br />

Retail footfall is always a bit of a<br />

rollercoaster. Here’s a special report<br />

from IPSOS Retail Performance on<br />

the latest trends instore.<br />

Words by: Dr Tim Denison<br />

Image: Claire Satera<br />

Share<br />


With the UK enjoying record temperatures, here is<br />

a round up of footfall hot spots around the isle.<br />

Look at a map of retail footfall across the UK and you’ll see that levels somewhat<br />

stagnated in May. Last month’s Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures show that UK shopper<br />

numbers were 4.2 per cent lower than in May 2016, despite a busy May bank holiday<br />

week in which footfall was just 0.8 per cent lower than last year.<br />

Footfall fell in every region of the country when compared with both last year and last<br />

month, with South West England & Wales suffering from the biggest year-on-year drop<br />

at -8.9 per cent. In comparison with April, Scotland & Northern Ireland witnessed the<br />

biggest drop at -10.6%. The report is published monthly and derived from the number of<br />

individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.<br />

As summer begins we usually see weekly footfall progressively rising, as the weather<br />

improves and shopping becomes a more frequent pastime. The upswing didn’t happen<br />

this year; that’s not to say it won’t, but it’s certainly late. At a time when we find<br />

ourselves in political and economic no-man’s-land, it’s perhaps not surprising that<br />

shoppers are exercising more caution when it comes to spending disposable income.<br />

With four in ten shops managing at present to convert more browsers into spenders this<br />

year over last, it’s apparent that shoppers are being more discerning and selective with<br />

what they buy.<br />

But as the sun begins to shine throughout the summer there is hope that the next few<br />

months will deliver a more positive forecast<br />

Dr Tim Denison is director of retail intelligence at IPSOS Retail Performance www.ipsos-retailperformance.com.<br />


Capital gains<br />

Toronto is known as a city of diversity so<br />

it’s no surprise to see that variety carried<br />

over into retailing too.<br />

Image: Yeshi Kangrang<br />

Share<br />


Explorer: Toronto’s best loved<br />

Guide by: Karl McKeever<br />

The diversity that exists within Toronto reveals a thrilling and eclectic mix of must-see<br />

retailers. For the latest in our global retail travel series, Explorer stopped off in Canada to<br />

discover the retailers that are helping to transform its largest city.<br />

Bite 678 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E5<br />

Cumbrae’s 714 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E8<br />

Arc’teryx 339 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V<br />

House of VR 639 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B7<br />

Lavish & Squalor 253 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z4<br />

Square Fish 461 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A9<br />

TIMBUK2 359 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V<br />

Anthropologie 761 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1<br />

Air Jordan 306 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 1R4<br />

Independent City Market 301 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1S2<br />

Let’s explore. Read our Explorer: Toronto article in full at<br />


Such is the blend of<br />

influences in the city that<br />

it is like visiting New York,<br />

Covent Garden and Paris,<br />

all within the same space.<br />

Image: Lavish and Squalor, Torronto<br />


Explorer:<br />

Finding inspiration is easy with our Explorer global retail<br />

travel series as your guide. From Istanbul to Las Vegas,<br />

Helsinki and Toronto, we visit cities around the world to<br />

review standout brand experiences in all their enticing,<br />

energetic glory.<br />

C<br />

H<br />

I<br />

Subscribe. Sign up to our mailing list at visualthinking.co.uk<br />

to receive every Explorer straight to your inbox.<br />

@shoptactics<br />

Let’s explore.<br />


Moments of<br />

happiness<br />

Words by:<br />

Helen Bonser<br />

Share<br />

It’s no secret that here at Visual Thinking<br />

we’re big fans of those who strive to<br />

provide us with moments of perfection.<br />

From retailers, to hotels, airlines and<br />

even the humble cab ride, here are a<br />

few examples that act as a beacon for<br />

excellence and prove that it isn’t just retail<br />

that is ‘detail’.<br />


Image: Every day, 730,000 people get around Tokyo<br />

by taxi<br />

Image: Kimpton Hotels’ ‘soft’ benefits are designed<br />

to make everyone feel special<br />

Image: Finnair understands the value of investing in<br />

the fine art of flawless hospitality<br />


Nihon Kotsu<br />

Everyone needs a lift now and again. Nihon Kotsu – Tokyo’s biggest<br />

taxi company – ensures its customers receive exactly that, in more<br />

ways than one. Customers are greeted by white-gloved drivers,<br />

arriving with deferential polite manners and spotless cars, and driven<br />

by a real pride in their work. They even have hydraulic levers to open<br />

and close the back door for customers. The company is thriving<br />

by offering better service than anyone else. Nihon Kotsu’s training<br />

programmes ensure every driver learns what it takes to deliver the<br />

brand experience, and why taking pride in the job matters. Nothing<br />

is left to chance. To the company’s boss Kawanabe, the value in his<br />

drivers getting it right is obvious: “Customers will want to ride with you<br />

and you will perform better.”<br />

Kimpton Hotels<br />

Kimpton Hotels demonstrate a true commitment to cosy benefits<br />

and the small touches that make guest stays truly memorable<br />

– even if they are of the four-legged variety. Founded in 1981 in<br />

San Francisco, Kimpton has a simple pet policy: if the pet can fit<br />

through the hotel doors, they’re welcome to stay. No size, weight<br />

or breed restrictions, and no additional charges. Each of its 60<br />

hotels provides water bowls, treats, pet beds, toys and pooperscooper<br />

bags. Some hotels even have a four-legged ‘Director of Pet<br />

Relations’, whose job it is to ensure pet amenities are up to snuff<br />

and provide a very personal welcome. There are plenty of signature<br />

wellness perks for regular guests too, such as in-room yoga mats,<br />

and the use of complimentary public bikes at all properties to pedal<br />

around and explore town.<br />

Finnair<br />

Done well, a national airline is the ultimate soft-power ambassador<br />

to reinforce a country’s global reputation. Finland is recognised as a<br />

country in which to enjoy quality, delivered by professionals. It’s why<br />

employees of national carrier Finnair are busy learning the fine art<br />

of flawless hospitality. With the Finnair Flight Academy it’s all about<br />

people. The airline puts its success down to its people having a<br />

true can-do attitude and a focus on clarity. It has also joined forces<br />

with Finnish fashion company Marimekko. Its designs have become<br />

an inherent part of the Finnair air travel experience over the past<br />

few years – the Marimekko for Finnair collection has been specially<br />

designed to add a light and fresh visual dimension to the<br />

on-board experience<br />

Helen Bonser is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – helen@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


Waste<br />

not<br />

Words by: Lisa Lawson<br />

Image: iStock<br />

Share<br />

Cover feature<br />


I have hope.<br />

I know it’s possible…<br />

to do it a better way.<br />

Eileen Fisher<br />

Founder of US womenswear brand, Eileen Fisher<br />


Keep your eyes on waste. We’re not talking physical<br />

waste, although if you work in the fashion industry that<br />

is a problem – a huge one. In spring 2017, 235m items of<br />

clothing were sent to UK landfill, a figure largely blamed<br />

on the throwaway culture that ‘fast fashion’<br />

has fuelled.<br />

No, there is another kind of waste: one that harms productivity rather than<br />

the environment. As business costs continue to rise, retailers are suffering from<br />

the burden, both operationally and financially, of being wasteful with two of their<br />

most precious instore resources – time and people. Which is why, when retailers<br />

are keen to optimise store performance, we start by showing them how they<br />

could get more from what they already have. If you want to truly transform<br />

bottom line store performance, that’s where the smart money is (saved).<br />

Endless investment, hours and effort can be wasted through failure to achieve<br />

a ‘right first time’ approach instore – either through uncertainty, confusion or<br />

unnecessary repetition of daily tasks, or through store operations and visual<br />

merchandising policies that simply are not fit for purpose.<br />


Endless investment,<br />

hours and effort can be<br />

wasted through failure<br />

to achieve a ‘right first<br />

time’ approach instore<br />

Image: & Other Stories, New York City<br />


Image: O2 has seen compliance with visual standards rise by 34%<br />

To say it’s about making stores, and the people who work in them, more efficient and effective would<br />

be an oversimplification. Indeed, there is a great deal of insight and work that goes into making instore<br />

practices work better for a retailer and not, seemingly, working against it. Then there are the specific<br />

knowledge and skills needed to embed new ways of working correctly and consistently.<br />

According to WRAP UK, if the average life of clothes could be extended by just nine months, waste<br />

footprints could be reduced by up to 30 per cent. Similarly, policy information could be cascaded by<br />

retailers faster and more clearly, and instore compliance could increase by the same figure,<br />

as telco retailer O2 discovered with the launch of its digital visual excellence tool. The good news<br />

is that proven solutions already exist. The question is why, when innovative digital solutions allow<br />

retail standards and store team performance to be monitored, measured and reported in real-time,<br />

aren’t more high street retailers already benefiting from the savings they bring?<br />

Lisa Lawson is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking<br />

– lisa@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />

View projects<br />



Body confidence<br />

Words by: Helen Bonser<br />

About 30 years ago a truly pioneering brand arrived on the high street, led by its campaigning founder Anita<br />

Roddick. Highly disruptive, this was a brand full of energy and, most importantly of all, purpose. It was<br />

the first international beauty brand to campaign against the practice of animal testing in cosmetics. With<br />

strong, clearly communicated and meaningful values, the brand resonated well with increasingly ‘aware’<br />

shoppers. Rapid growth followed.<br />

Today, The Body Shop has 3,000 stores across the world. But huge growth and global consumption<br />

turned out to be an oxymoron for an ethical brand. Many were not persuaded by its eventual sale to<br />

L’Oréal. Sanitised and weakened in corporate corridors, The Body Shop appeared to lose its spirit. Brand<br />

approval amongst shoppers, and profits, plunged as a result.<br />

It may have once exemplified ethical retailing but, as in every retail sector, time and markets move on.<br />

Today, its once game-changing retail concept has not just been copied, but bettered. None though have<br />

the value of The Body Shop legacy.<br />

Its latest campaign seeks to capitalise on this. Going back to its roots with a fresh ethics push, it is calling<br />

for a total global ban on cosmetics animal testing on products and ingredients by 2020 – Cruelty Free<br />

International estimates that approximately 500,000 animals are still used in cosmetics testing every year.<br />

The campaign boldly proclaims that it is “here to finish what it started back in the 1980s”. With its £800m<br />

sale to Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer Natura Cosméticos now complete, perhaps there really is hope<br />

for a better future – one that will see The Body Shop finally deliver on potential instore too<br />

Helen Bonser is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – helen@visualthinking.co.uk<br />


A new leaf<br />

Words by: Kirsty Kean<br />

Image: Verena Yunita Yapi<br />

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Houseplants are<br />

hip again.<br />

Scientific evidence suggests that<br />

greenery boosts productivity and<br />

wellbeing. But while architects<br />

are giving integrated greenery<br />

a prominent role in the design<br />

process, retailers have been slow<br />

to catch on.<br />

Image: H&M London<br />


Image: Kiehl, London<br />

It’s fair to say that there’s always been something<br />

of a drought in support for the idea of ‘greening’<br />

stores. Recently, there’s been a noticeable change,<br />

with stores up and down the land transformed by<br />

a host of botanical offerings.<br />

Apple has planted 12 Ficus Alii trees in its Regent<br />

Street store. Over in Helsinki, design and textiles<br />

store Kauniste has taken this concept to the next<br />

level: its innovative ‘plant hotel’ service encourages<br />

shoppers to display their houseplants in a private,<br />

well-lit spot, where they will be cared for while<br />

As well as helping to ‘domesticise’, humanise<br />

they’re on holiday.<br />

and soften retail spaces, biophilic design is seen<br />

as a means of creating living, breathing sensory<br />

experiences in which, crucially, shoppers will want<br />

to dwell, and spend more money. The use of<br />

plants and foliage is prominent within many current<br />

instore schemes – H&M, Next and West Elm. As a<br />

living contrast to the electronic devices on display,<br />

But these seeds of change could deliver much<br />

wider benefits. Research from Exeter University<br />

suggests that being surrounded by greenery<br />

makes employees more psychologically<br />

engaged, aids memory retention, and can boost<br />

productivity by 15 per cent. For retailers keen to<br />

boost team performance instore, that would be<br />

‘win-win’<br />

Kirsty Kean is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – kirsty@visualthinking.co.uk.<br />


Greenery continues to play a greater role in instore schemes<br />


Filling<br />

a gap<br />

Ethical<br />

consumerism<br />

Words by:<br />

Helen Bonser<br />

isn’t just good for<br />

the planet – it’s<br />

big business too.<br />

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There is a change of quite significant proportions<br />

that is starting to gather momentum. Shoppers<br />

have been aware of spending with conscience for<br />

a number of years now. Anita Roddick led the way,<br />

pioneering ethical consumption with the launch<br />

of The Body Shop in 1976. Then there was Linda<br />

McCartney, often mocked for her public support for<br />

vegetarianism, who launched her own, at the time,<br />

niche food range.<br />

Fast forward 25 years and comedian Simon Amstell’s<br />

highly acclaimed mockumentary on veganism, ‘Carnage’,<br />

is breaking down barriers. According to the Vegan Society,<br />

veganism is now one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle<br />

movements. Its growth rate is up by 360 per cent over<br />

the last 10 years, and more and more vegan products are<br />

making their way into mainstream shopping baskets. Now<br />

the Big 5 grocery retailers all have ‘free-from’ ranges. On the<br />

high street, Pret A Manger has been quick to steal a march<br />

on others by also advocating plant-based diets – recently<br />

opening its second Veggie Pret, in London’s Shoreditch.<br />

The decision by Pret to roll out this new fascia highlights<br />

that, for those brave and committed enough, there are still<br />

exciting growth opportunities to be found within what would<br />

otherwise appear to be highly saturated markets. So while<br />

the urge may be to seek stability, it is always vital for retailers<br />

to guard against that resulting in an inability to evolve. After<br />

all, as many positive examples from the past have shown,<br />

today’s ‘fringe’ often becomes tomorrow’s mainstream<br />

Helen Bonser is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – helen@visualthinking.co.uk<br />


Image: London’s first vegan grocery store opened in<br />

August 2016<br />

Image: The latest Veggie Pret concept opened in<br />

Shoreditch, London in spring 2017<br />

Image: Lush is well-known for its ethical<br />

employment practices<br />


Closing<br />

the loop<br />

Attention all who think change isn’t<br />

possible or sustainable: M&S has<br />

proved it is. Aside for its new Plan<br />

A 2025, it surely offers a sense of<br />

hope that transformation of the retail<br />

environment is achievable too.<br />

Words by: Suzanne Tanner<br />

Image: Timothy Paul Smith<br />

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A decade has past since M&S first launched its<br />

Plan A. As it proudly states on its website (and so<br />

it should), M&S has gone far beyond its original<br />

100-commitment – delivering 296 commitments<br />

and receiving more than 240 awards. Now, it has<br />

unveiled another 100-commitments. Build on the<br />

success of the first 10 years, Plan A 2025 aims to<br />

support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people<br />

live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a<br />

zero-waste business.<br />

The success of Plan A highlights the transformative<br />

impact that can be achieved when objectives are clear,<br />

communicated effectively and universally adopted and<br />

embraced at store level, and beyond – all M&S stores<br />

promoted Plan A and appointed Plan A Champions.<br />

The question has to be; why M&S has been able to<br />

rally people around its push for greater sustainability so<br />

effectively, and yet delivering real change in retail and<br />

visual operations seems to remain such a huge challenge?<br />

According to M&S director of sustainable business,<br />

Mike Barry, “Plan A 2025 is designed to help inspire<br />

customers to be the best they can be.” The focus for M&S<br />

now must surely be on putting a plan in place to ensure it<br />

can achieve the same kind of goal when in comes to the<br />

shopper experience<br />

Suzanne Tanner is senior retail project manager at Visual Thinking – suzanne@visualthinking.co.uk<br />


18%<br />

YOY sales uplift<br />

– Wilko<br />

96%<br />

compliance<br />

with retail<br />

standards<br />

– O2<br />

24%<br />

EMEA sales (YOY) increase<br />

– Harley-Davidson<br />

YOY sales increase<br />

in pilot stores<br />

– Big W<br />

27%<br />

45%<br />

uplift in GM and<br />

accessory sales<br />

– Audi<br />

visualthinking.co.uk<br />


Positive retail transformation.<br />

No one takes stores from better to ‘best’ faster.<br />

visualthinking.co.uk<br />


Good buy<br />

Visual Thinking is a retail transformation agency<br />

based in the UK and headed by a team of professional,<br />

experienced and highly talented retail minds.<br />

For almost 25 years, we have worked with retailers, at home<br />

and abroad, to deliver powerful ‘best in class’ retail excellence<br />

programs and leadership visual merchandising thinking –<br />

improving team engagement, boosting productivity and<br />

accelerating retail growth.<br />

Let’s talk<br />

+44 (0) 2080 506 028<br />

mail@visualthinking.co.uk<br />

www.visualthinking.co.uk<br />

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