Gap unveils new concept store at Bluewater

Gap has opened a new concept store at its Bluewater location, which includes a ‘Denim Addict’ personalisation service, marking the first of a new concept design to launch in the UK.

The 10,000 square foot store located on the shopping centre’s lower Rose Gallery, next door to the Misguided store that will open this summer, houses Gap’s women’s, men’s, kids and baby collections, as well as GapFit and Gap Body alongside the brand’s regular apparel and icons.

The new denim customisation service will allow shoppers to personalise their denim with distressing, studs, patches and embroidery. In addition, other products will be able to be embroidered with names and initials.

Gap unveils new concept store at Bluewater

Commenting on the concept store Russell Loveland, portfolio director at Land Securities, co-owner and asset manager of Bluewater, said: “Gap’s decision to open their new concept store for the UK at Bluewater reaffirms its position as Europe’s leading retail and leisure destination.

“Gap’s store, which brings a number of innovations to the guest experience, is part of our strategy to create a select series of statement stores at Bluewater, where the emphasis is on providing something unique.”

The Kent-based shopping centre has more than 300 stores including Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser, John Lewis, H&M, Zara, Anthropologie and Michael Kors.

Images: courtesy of Gap/Bluewater

Marks and Spencer has become the first retailer to share DisabledGo “Access Guides” containing detailed information on its stores’ accessibility for disabled people and carers on its website.

The detailed guides includes information such as lighting levels, to the number of accessible car parking spaces, to the provision of hearing loops, and all the guides are available for customers on the M&S.com Store Locator page.

The guides have been created following a 50-strong team of DisabledGo experts visiting Marks and Spencer stores across the country, where they analysed the stores’ accessibility and took images for the retailers 590 owned stores.

DisabledGo guides are designed to help the UK’s 12 million disabled people with visual impairments, autism, and those in wheelchairs to shop on high streets, in shopping centres and at retail parks, as well as also helping others with access needs, such as parents with prams or those with mobility problems.

Gregory Burke, founder of DisabledGo said: “Marks and Spencer has some of the most accessible shops on the high street, but we know that disabled people don’t always know what this will mean for them when they visit their local store. We already have one million people using our guides and we’re excited that by working with partners like Marks and Spencer we can grow the number of people the guides are helping.

“The spending power of disabled people rose to 249 billion pounds and it’s exciting to see one of the UK’s biggest retailers acknowledge the rise and the power of the purple pound.”

Sacha Berendji, retail director at Marks and Spencer added: “We put the customer at the heart of everything we do and our stores being accessible for everyone is extremely important to us. We have a proud heritage of doing the right thing for our customers and it’s an area we want to continue to lead the market on by listening to our customers and responding to their needs.”

James Franco presents Zalando's new campaign: “Man Box“

That men are not particularly crazy about shopping is no secret, even or especially when shopping for their own clothes. Which is why online retailer Zalando wants to make it easier for men to find their own style and tapped James Franco for its latest campaign to show men how easy the world of online shopping can be.

In it's new Spring/Summer 2017-2018 campaign the US actor and director shows viewers how Zalando's "Man Box" can help ease their stylign concerns. “Our new campaign 'It’s a Man Box' demonstrates that Zalando is the place to go in terms of style not only for women but also for men. Men exhibit their very own shopping behaviour, which is why we don't tell them what to wear. We show them where to get their favourite brands and outfits; not more, not less,“ explained Carsten Hendrich, vice president, brand marketing at Zalando.

Zalando's “Man Box“ is about decisions rather than shopping

Not only is Franco the face of the new campaign, he is also the director and producer of the marketing campaigned, which was filmed and shot on the streets of Los Angeles. “James Franco's subtle humour corresponds to the self-image of the target group and encourages them to make their own decisions,“ added Hendrich.

“Men. We are creatures of habit. We like what we like. Do we like shopping? Hmm. We like tennis. We like cooking. Mmh. We like fishing. Because we don't shop. We decide“, says Franco, summing up men's preferences in the short TV spot.

Those whose curiosity has been piqued can get a sneak peak of the campaign's TV commerical at www.zalando.co.uk/manbox. From 12th March, the spring summer 2017 campaign for men will be aired live in all Zalando markets.

Photo: Zalando
Farfetch gears up for debut technology and fashion event: FarfetchOS

London - Online luxury retailer Farfetch is eager to continue innovating the worlds of fashion and tech, which is why the company is set to host its first event this spring, FarfetchOS. Following its recent announcement that none other than Dame Natalie Massenet has Farfetch's team as Co-Chairman, comes news of the speaks and research partner set to speak at the luxury company's upcoming event on April 12, at the London Design Museum.

Key speakers for the debut event include William Shu, founder and CEO of food delivery app Deliveroo; William Kim, CEO of British high street brand AllSaints; and Maria McClay, the Industry Head of Fashion at Google. Together with other technology and fashion leaders, such as José Neves, Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO of Farfetch and Dame Natalie Massenet Co-Chairman of Farfetch, they aim to deliver thought-provoking discussions on ways in which disruptive innovation is influencing and forming the fashion industry and what the future of luxury retail may look like.

“We believe that the future of luxury fashion will involve the physical store and will be augmented by digital platforms, making a variety of unique, customer-focused experiences possible," commented José Neves, Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO. "FarfetchOS will host discussions that will delve deeper into this, and we are thrilled to announce some of the event speakers, together with our research partner Bain & Company who will explore this intersection of physical and digital retail.”

For its first innovation and fashion event, Farfetch has decided to partner with management consulting firm Bain & Company, who is the event's official research partner. During FarfetchOS, Claudia D’Arpizio and Federica Levato, both partners from Bain & Co. Luxury Practice will present new research which focuses on the ongoing changes taking place in the relationship between luxury fashion customer and technology while taking a look at the new patterns of communication and distribution this creates and share insights into the emerging behaviours of the Millennial customer.

In addition, Neves is also set to share details concerning its new concept "Store of The Future". This installation aims to show how retailers can place customers at the centre of the retail experience and using emerging technologies let them interact with customers in a new way both online and offline. "Whether capturing physical interactions in store or knowing the customer across all their channels, Store of the Future will enable brands and retailers to drive growth and champion innovation," said Farfetch in a statement. FarfetchOS is an industry event only.

Photo: Courtesy of Farfetch

TK Maxx to open in Australia

London - International discount retailer TK Maxx has confirmed it is set to open its doors in Australia. Owned by US firm TJX Companies Inc, TK Maxx, known as TJ Maxx in North America, is said to be the first major 'off-price' retailer to expand into the country.

TK Maxx is set to open at least 35 stores across the country in former locations of Trade Secret stores by April this year, and aims to open a number extra locations throughout the year. The move comes more than two years after TJX Companies acquired local discount retailer Trade Secret from Gazal Corporation for more than 80 million AU dollars and follows on from TK Maxx return to the Benelux, a little over a year and half ago.

TK Maxx gears up to open 35 stores in Australia

TJX Companies, which currently operates over 3,800 fashion and homeware stores across the globe under a number of retailers, believes there are many opportunities for discount retailers in the Australian market. “Our off-price model is unique to the market,” said Tessa Buenen, a TJX spokesperson to Inside Retail. “Australian shoppers are extremely savvy and value orientated, so we think our offer is going to be a winning formula here and we’re very excited about our growth opportunities for this market.”

Unlike local department stores David Jones and Myer, TK Maxx offers customers new designs and styles each week, at the fraction of the normal retail price which encourages consumers to buy more on the spot, in fear the item will be gone next week. TK Maxx is famously known for its "treasure hunt" shopping experience, which sees customers enjoying the thrill of the find. "Because of the way we buy, we have several deliveries per week with thousands of new products hitting shop floors," explained Buenen. "This means that no two stores are the same, and with new products arriving regularly there will always be something new and fresh for shoppers to discover on a visit to our stores."

TK Maxx to open in Australia

“We don’t have walls between our departments, so we can easily expand or contract categories to respond to the newest trends or latest deliveries in our stores. We also merchandise by size to make it easy for customers to shop – so for example, if a customer is looking for a dress and they’re a size 10, you’ll find all the size 10 dresses in one rack together. It makes it really easy to shop with us. Our stores are bright, modern, easy-to-shop and we have a flexible store layout," said Buenen. In addition, TK Maxx does not purchase its goods seasonally, but rather purchases items throughout the year, for its global network of over 18,000 vendors, ensuring it has a unique mix of product in each store that are not necessarily seasonal bound.

Although some insiders note that the arrival of TK Maxx could be upsetting for local department stores, due to its discounting approach the 'off-price' retailer is more of a contender against the mid-price retailers Kmart and Target. “We wouldn’t comment on the competition, but what we can say is that we believe we have a fabulous store that offers customers a unique selection of merchandise with an exciting shopping experience, and we think customers here will absolutely love it," added Buenen.

Buenen declined to reveal more on TK Maxx strategy for Australia, or what brands the stores would be carrying, but she did noted that the stores would offer a "huge" assortment of men's, women's, and children's fashion, footwear, accessories, lingerie, beauty as well as homeware from a number of local and international brands at different price points. “We expect Australian shoppers will love TK Maxx, just as we have experienced across the UK and Europe. There’s certainly lots of expats and Australians here who are already familiar with the brand so we’re excited to bring TK Maxx to Australian shores.”

TJX Companies has yet to reveal the exact location and date of the opening of its first TK Maxx store in Australia.

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The Modist launches online

A new destination for luxury modest fashion, The Modist has launched online to offer women who dress in a contemporary, fashionable yet modest manner high fashion options from designers including Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou.

Founded by Ghizlan Guenez, the aim of the luxury online destination is to offer a high fashion platform for women whose personal dressing choices span all ages, faiths, cultures and ethnicities that wish to wear in-season, luxury fashion choices.

"Our mission is to build a strong sense of purpose to empower a woman's freedom of choice and to acknowledge how similar women across the world are, despite our diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles, a relevant conversation at this time," explains Guenez. "We aim to break down pre-conceived notions while building a community and dialogue that invigorates, informs and celebrates the fashionable, modern, modest woman.”

The Modist launches online

Shipping to more than 100 countries, The Modist will feature over 75 leading ready-to-wear and accessories brands, from Marni to Alberta Ferretti, M.i.H Jeans, Tabitha Simmons, and Peter Pilotto.

The curated shopping will be accompanied by the brand’s online magazine, The Mod that will provide shoppable content, seasonal features, styling guidance, moving image segments, behind-the-scenes excerpts as well as profiles and interviews.

The platform also includes personal styling and shopping tips, an in-house studio and a 24/7 personal concierge.

Lisa Bridgett, chief operating officer, added: "The market potential within the modest fashion segment is vast and projected to reach a value of 484 billion dollars by 2019. Our goal is to provide a one-stop, immersive content and shopping destination for the global luxury modest consumer whom we know and herald.”

With offices in London and Dubai, The Modist team comprises, in addition to Guenez and Bridgett, international business and fashion industry specialists including Sasha Sarokin as buying and fashion director, Sally Matthews as creative director and Dima Ayad as PR and marketing director.

Images: screenshots of The Modist website

Trinity Leeds has been named the UK’s best CollectPlus location in the brand’s quarterly awards programme, which recognises excellent customer satisfaction and service levels over the period October to December 2016.

Owned and managed by Land Securities, Trinity Leeds is the city’s biggest shopping and leisure destination, with over 120 shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, and it has seen its customers increasing using Click and Collect over the last three years.

The shopping centre has a dedicated CollectPlus placation point that is open every day and this award recognises its customer service, as well as the demands of the busiest quarter that included key shopping dates such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas trading period.

Rob Jewell, portfolio director at Land Securities, said: “This award is a great achievement for Trinity Leeds, showing how the team has worked closely with our loyal catchment area to provide the best possible customer service – providing new ways to send and receive goods and parcels, and exceeding national standards every day.

“Trinity Leeds’ Centre Management Team prides itself on its relationship with customers and has fostered the development of its CollectPlus services over the past three years to align with the customers’ increasing usage of click-and-collect.”

Founded in 2009, CollectPlus is a joint venture between PayPoint, the leading retail payment network, and independent parcel carrier, Yodel. The CollectPlus network has more than 6,000 locations across the UK and allows shoppers to collect online purchases and return unwanted items from more than 360 high street and online retailers, including John Lewis, New Look and Asos.

You might soon be able to buy luxury goods on WhatsApp

Bloomberg has announced that online luxury retailer Yoox-Net-a-Porter is developing technology that will allow customers to buy products directly though WhatsApp as the e-commerce market for Prada and Versace becomes more competitive.

Yoox-Net-a-Porter has already been utilizing the app to communicate with customers via the text messaging service.

This would would give them a leg up over their competitors like Farfetch and Moda Operandi.

The fashion industry has taken a cautious approach to using messaging apps as part of their e-commerce services. In China, most WeChat users have their bank accounts linked to the service, and a majority of global luxury brands use WeChat for marketing, but only a fraction use it to sell directly through the app.

Yoox-Net-a-Porter's goal is to be able to get easier access to their biggest spending clients.

The move is a logical one for Net-a-Porter, as their mobile customers make more purchases than their desktop customers. The specific release date for the WhatsApp service still has not been announced.

Unity Walk gets green light

Plans for a 435,000 square foot retail and leisure development in Stoke-on-Trent has been given full planning permission by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The Unity Walk development aims to transform the southern end of the city centre and will be anchored by Marks and Spencer and Next alongside a 10-screen The Light Cinema, which it is expected will also include Staffordshire’s first Imax.

Unity Walk gets green light

Marks and Spencer have signed up to a 50,000 square foot store that will be the focal point at the southern end of the scheme and immediately adjacent to the new car park. It will house clothing and food.

Rob Morray, head of property planning at Marks and Spencer said: “We’re always thinking about how we can deliver great service for our customers. Our proposed new store will help us deliver the very best of M&S from the heart of the new development.”

While Next have taken a 26,000 square foot split-level unit opposite Parliament Row. They will sit alongside 14 other units, which range from 1,000 to 32,000 square feet.

Unity Walk gets green light

Stoke-on-Trent gives green light to new retail development Unity Walk

The green light means that developer Realis Estates can advance discussions to relocate the existing occupiers of the site, the East West Centre and the former bus station, in order to get vacant possession. This will then allow demolition to commence, which it is anticipated will start later this year.

Duncan Mathieson, managing director of Realis Estates said: “Securing planning approval for Unity Walk is a fantastic result and a major milestone towards making our vision a reality. We will now work hard to relocate the existing occupiers so we can begin demolition as soon as possible.”

Unity Walk gets green light

The proposals for retail and leisure complex had come under some opposition from rival shopping centre Intu Potteries Shopping Centre, however, the council felt that the development, which will also include a 90-room hotel and a triple-deck car park with more than 600 spaces would be beneficial to the city as it would create more than 650 jobs and bring people into the city centre.

Images: courtesy of Unity Walk

Flannels gears up to open debut Scottish store

Flannels, the high-end designer store chain owned by Sports Direct, is set to open its first store in Scotland at Silverburn shopping in Glasgow.

Due to officially open in spring, the debut Scottish store will span 756 square meters and offer a range of luxury and premium designer apparel, footwear and accessories for men and women. The new store's interior will sit in line with the rest of Flannels stores throughout England and reflect the retailer's minimalistic and streamlined aesthetic.

"With constant footfall and a strong reputation, Silverburn is the perfect place for our debut site in Scotland," said a spokesperson for Flannels in a statement. "We are excited to share our collection of fantastic designer brands and continue our success across the UK." Flannels currently counts 13 stores across the UK, in addition to an online store. Minus its new store opening in Silverburn, the retailer is set to open an additional 5 stores in the UK, including a flagship store in London.

Flannels joins a growing number of retailers to open their doors in Silverburn, including Jack Wills, Levi's and Kiko Milano. "This recent signing clearly reflects the increasing attraction for high-end brands, whilst firmly cementing Silverburn as the region’s number one retail and leisure destination," said Iain Mitchell, UK Commercial Director at Hammerson. "Flannels has created a benchmark for luxury retail by providing sought after designers and fantastic customer service in a stylish setting, and we are thrilled to launch them at Silverburn in Scotland."

Originally founded in Cheshire in 1976, Flannels made a name for itself throughout the UK as one of the first retailers to introduce established UK and international designers to the North West. Flannels brand portfolio includes luxury labels such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler and Jimmy Choo.

Photo: Flannels, Leeds

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