Consultancies pitch for RNLI visitor attractions

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is holding a second round of pitches this week to find a consultancy to develop visitor attractions at its Poole, Dorset, headquarters.

Details on the attractions are under wraps, but they will centre around a lifeboat ‘experience’ designed to simulate a lifeboat, says RNLI Retail managing director Jane George.

The news follows the appointment last week of First Partnership to design interiors for a £9m lifeboat college on the same site. The college, which is set to open in March 2003, will replace an existing smaller training facility.

The RNLI is introducing residential facilities to the college, which is aimed at training new recruits, as well as existing lifeboat crews from the UK and abroad.

Alongside training, the college will stage management development and fundraising courses for its staff and volunteers.

Meanwhile, First Partnership’s blueprint for all future UK RNLI retail environments, unveiled last June at Southend (DW 17 May), is being rolled out nationally.

The decision follows a like-for-like sales increase of 128 per cent at the prototype site since it opened in August 2001.

The next shop will open at a converted lifeboat station in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in May. First Partnership is designing the identity, interior and exterior signage and merchandising systems.

As well as the shop, the Eastbourne site will house a visitor museum displaying around 150 artefacts from the original station alongside details of every rescue. The station has relocated nearby.

First Partnership will make changes to the Southend blueprint to adapt to nuances at the Eastbourne centre, such as a non-wooden floor.

A third revamped shop will open in Whitby this year, and further outlets are scheduled to roll out next year on a gradual basis.

The RNLI has a 118-strong estate of outlets nationwide as well as retail environments in museums and high streets.

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