Burton, the Arcadia-owned menswear retailer, is planning to launch its first concept store featuring ‘experimental’ store elements and is poised to appoint a consultancy from a current two-strong shortlist to the task, Design Week can exclusively reveal.
Burton held an initial pitch between five consultancies and expects to select a consultancy within three weeks, following a formal presentation with Arcadia group’s chief executive, Ian Grabiner.
The menswear retailer is currently considering three potential sites for the concept store and aims to have prototypes for the scheme ready before Christmas. Burton creative director, Stephen Hall, is overseeing the project.
The concept store will trial new store formats, window schemes, fixtures and ways of selling. Communicating and applying the Burton brand will also be looked at. The successful design solutions will be rolled out across Burton’s 400-strong store portfolio.
‘This will be more than a building – it’s a way of shopping and thinking. We will be challenging everything,’ says Hall.
To bolster the project, Burton has undertaken its first ‘intensive’ UK-wide research using focus groups. The findings are currently being ‘distilled’ and aim to better understand the nature of men and shopping.
According to Hall, the idea for a concept store has been on the cards ‘for a while’.
‘We want to keep the Burton brand top of mind for men on the high street. We are in the fashion business and it doesn’t stand still. You have to keep moving,’ he said.
Burton is facing increasingly stiff competition on the high street from rivals Next, River Island, Debenhams and Gap, which continue to undertake design and strategy-led projects in a bid to lure the fashion-conscious male consumer.
According to Mintel senior retail analyst Neil Mason, there are ‘further opportunities’ for Burton to refresh its brand. Earlier this year it was reported that Philip Green, owner of Arcadia, was considering launching a TV campaign for Burton, but decided against it.
Burton does not work regularly with outside design groups. Two years ago, it appointed Portland Design to reinforce its brand identity for ‘better differentiation and more confidence’. The project was overseen by creative director Rodney Fitch and led by creative director Lloyd Blakey (DW 15 May 2003).
Heavy hitter on the High street
Arcadia Group, the UK’s largest retailer, comprises seven brands: Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop and Wallis
1900 – Burton menswear business founded from a single store
1996 – Burton Group makes move into womenswear
1998 – Burton Group renamed Arcadia
2002 – Arcadia becomes part of Taveta Investments, owned by Philip Green