Richard Hamilton of Agile Space elaborates on his step-by-step guide to revamping your shops
Is there a perfect store format or is flexibility the key to success? The initial format of a store is usually determined at the start-up of any business and is dictated in part by premises, along with product offer. However, evolution can take your brand to new customers if it evolves with flexibility in mind.
Take Pret A Manger, for example. This started out in Victoria, London in the late 1980s as a deli-led sandwich shop, offering a similar concept to the current Philpotts offer. The initial store and operation was designed with large chiller displays packed full of fresh produce, enabling customers to select their own filling and witness their sandwich being made fresh.
As Pret developed from one store, the two founders, Julian and Sinclair, began to realise what was working and that they had to strike a balance between losing the freshly made appeal versus valuable store space initially used for queuing. The sandwich prep moved to a back-of-house kitchen and the product range, although less tailored to individual customers, was now a core range, pre-packaged in display cabinets enabling a rapid transaction and increased turnover.
Take-away sales replaced the deli and the natural evolution was to stick in some stools. Eat-in could be defined as being less luxurious than a café, but for many this begins, without thought, as a row of stools against an eating bench in a window. Like many retailers, the stools were a great success for Pret, as customers could sit and enjoy their sandwich while being a living window display. However, as new competitors hit the high street, Pret recognised the need for good coffee and the value it could add if executed properly.
Once coffee was fully introduced, the first café format was launched in Putney in the early 2000s and sat alongside a full range of stores from take-away to eat-in and, eventually, a freestanding kiosk. Each format worked, each format sold a core range of products, had a kitchen, sold good coffee and, critically, held true to the initial ingredients that made that first store a great success.
l Next month: what a store should look like