In the week it opened Canada Goose’s European flagship on Regent Street, Tom Parker and Polly Grinnell from Bristol-based Double Retail dropped in to GDR to discuss the future of physical retail and how its approach differs from most agencies
Double is a Bristol-based retail design agency that works on a full range of projects from shop-in-shop and fixture design to full turnkey design work, handling everything from concept through to store openings.
Established in 2009, it has traditionally worked with major lifestyle, fashion and sportswear brands in mainland Europe and the US. But the last year has seen Double become a regular feature in London’s retail hotspots, most recently with early November’s launch of the two-storey, 5,000 square foot Canada Goose flagship on Regent Street.
Physical retail growing
As well as Canada Goose, Double works with Casio, Havaianas, Icebreaker and US sports-fashion retailer Jimmy Jazz, amongst others.
Interestingly, in stark contrast to the stories of brands moving away from physical retail as e-commerce continues to make its mark, Double is seeing a very different picture.
“Every client we’re working with is growing their physical retail,” says Polly Grinnell, Double’s Client Services Director. “We’ve been doing a fair amount of work on brand experience but it’s been about expansion, rather than scaling back.”
Polly believes there has been a real shift in the way that brands want to be represented within their physical locations. She adds: “Brands have been really pushing to achieve a retail environment that is less about logos and much more about the material palette and the brand message coming through that material palette.”
Examples of this in Double’s recent projects include a sales desk made of Canadian marble in the Canada Goose flagship and the slate floor and concrete panelling at G-Shock’s Carnaby Street store, which embodies the brand’s ethos of toughness and never giving up.
Keeping it simple
Approaching design from a customer-centric point of view, Double’s Business Development Lead Tom Parker, believes it is important to keep things simple.
“I think simplicity is really important. Shoppers want to be able to walk in, understand the options presented to them and to easily find a cash desk to pay.”
Tying in with this idea of simplicity, the team feels that technology built into any store-fit must improve, rather than clutter, the customer journey.
In the Jimmy Jazz flagship on New York’s 125th Street, customers can pick up any shoe and scan the barcode on a tablet to see which sizes are available.
In watch brand G-Shock’s Carnaby Street store display cabinets are opened by RFID keycards, adding a touch of futuristic theatre while removing the inefficiency of staff carrying huge key rings.
Tom says: “It’s a practical use of technology which is the most important thing, but it also makes for a much slicker customer experience.”
The name Double comes from the idea that two heads are better than one and that there’s always a better way of doing things. This is reflected in the hands-on way the agency works with suppliers to help them improve their offerings and the way all employees are encouraged to come up with ideas and drive projects.
Most interestingly, it also influences its approach to working with other agencies. For example, Double recently collaborated with Reading-based architecture and interior design firm Quadrant on Radley & Co’s Arndale Centre store in Manchester.
Polly explains: “Previous relationships with Radley led to the introduction of key team members between our businesses and a shared perspective on working practices followed. The result was a partnership that was able to cover every aspect of the project from architectural design and structural engineering through to fully developed and installed fixtures.”
“Rather than seeing other agencies as competitors, there’s a lot to be said for joining forces; having your strengths but working together. It helps with knowledge and skill sharing and makes it easier to flex in size to meet the needs of new projects.”
Another thing that differentiates Double is its very conscious decision to stay in Bristol, rather than move to London.
Tom adds: “We love Bristol because it has a huge creative community and easy access to countryside and coastline. It’s close enough to London via train and it has an international airport that is perfect for quick trips to Europe.”
To read more about Double, visit their website by clicking here.