Retail operators regularly feature in the news, our shopping habits being deemed a major indicator of the country’s health. And though sales and discounts may be the order of the day in-store, things appear to be going well for retail design, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed.
Optimism has been fuelled by top-level changes within high-street chains. This week it was Tesco’s new chief executive Philip Clarke in the hot seat on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme talking about how he plans to ’soften’ the supermarket’s dealings with customers and stakeholders as he takes over from the legendary Sir Terry Leahy. Could this herald new work at Tesco for designers, not least in internal communications? Let’s hope so.
Similarly, indications are that Marc Bolland’s move from Morrisons to Marks & Spencer to fill the shoes vacated by Sir Stuart Rose last year has prompted a design review at M&S. And now Morrisons looks set to rethink its design strategy with input from Coley Porter Bell.
Supermarkets and chains such as M&S remain stalwarts in design, even in times of slashed budgets, using in-house teams and groups witness successes in the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards for Lewis Moberly and an in-house team led by Maggie Hodgetts, both with Waitrose packs. But it’s not just UK high streets driving the market.
Next month Design Week’s Top 100 survey will reveal a hugely improved business performance last year for a number of retail design specialists, particularly those working on projects abroad. The overseas market has been ripe for UK expertise, especially in developing countries like India, China and Russia and, judging by DW’s coverage, the market doesn’t look set to abate.
It is good to know though that things are moving closer to home. Retailers such as Morrisons and Tesco are key to consultancy life across design. Their health reflects heavily on that of our community.