How To: Launch a Concept Store

3 Jul 2015

In recent years we have seen the rise of the concept store, pioneered by brands such as Dover Street Market in London and Merci in Paris. While there is no single form a concept store typically takes, it can be generally defined as a space where a group of retailers, who all share a single vision, sell products that appeal to a particular consumer group. By bringing together a group of like-minded brands under one roof, customers benefit from a variety of experiences in one place and the retailers benefit forming part of a shared community.

This month, our space on Piccadilly in Mayfair has been transformed into the London Beach pop up – just in time for the summer heatwave. Featuring the likes of Finley & Co, Sumarie and Iris Sandals, it’s the place to go to purchase all of your holiday essentials. Eager to find out what it takes to launch a concept store, we spoke to the founder, Anastasia, to find out how she made her idea become a reality.

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What are the benefits of launching a concept store, rather than your own brand store?
A concept store is all about creating an atmosphere that is able to provide a shopping experience. The focus of a concept store is differentiation on display; mixing products that you might not see in the same department of a store and creating a story. Although I’m having my own brand, I had from the beginning in mind that a concept store would be the best positioning for my launch and I’m very happy to have taken that initiative.

How did you source the brands to appear inside the store?
This required some good research. I had a very specific concept in mind and was looking for brands that can complement each other and cover the different categories of a summer mood board. All the brands showcasing in the store are fresh London based emerging brands and designers who will present their latest collections and exclusive designs during this project.

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How did you tackle designing a store that encompasses lots of brands?
As a new brand I believe in the importance of collaborations. I had in mind a few brands and during the research period I met with numerous designers to discuss the concept and the needs of this project. Every joining brand has contributed in different areas of the organization but the most important element of such a project is the ability to curate and manage 13 brands.

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How did you decide where each brand fitted into the store?
The brands are positioned in different parts of the shop; there is no allocated space per brand. We have created collections of products and every brand is represented at our window displays. I had valuable help from our interior designer, Ben Gibbons, who has brought to life this project. I had communicated to all the brands that this store will not have a concession shop style and we would be looking at alternative displays.

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Are you taking it in turns to staff the store or will it be managed by one brand?
The store is managed by one brand (IRIS); some of the designers are also present from time to time. We also have two staff members covering the morning and afternoon shifts.

What's been the biggest challenge so far of launching a concept store (how did you overcome them?)
This was my first retail project and there have been a lot of challenges on the way. From the organisational point, there are so many areas that need to be covered before launching and then many practical elements that come on the way once the store opens. The other challenging part is to manage the expectations of 12 brands and manage a bigger team of individuals. I’m using a project management platform so I can update all brands on the project regularly and I try to be on top of any requests or address any needs during this project.

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What advice would you give to someone looking to launch their own concept store?
Start the planning well in advance! Choose who you work with, be organized and enjoy the whole process!

Discover concept stores to rent in London

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