Clever collaboration is key for Change Retail’s shop initiative at the Savoy

You can lay bets on the creative community coming up with new ideas – even in tough times. The latest example is Shop at the Savoy, the five-star retail service designed by Change Retail for guests at one of London’s swankiest hotels. The brainchild of Simon Thompson, an ex-ad man who formerly worked with retail design group Four IV, the venture looks set to create a welcome new outlet for design and foster collaboration between retailers, designers and other creatives.

Thompson spotted the opportunity as the Savoy prepared to reopen its doors following a £100m refurbishment. Its luxurious new interiors, based on the original designs, boosted the five-star experience, he felt, but, as with most top hotels, that wasn’t extended to retail elements.

His consultancy, Change Retail, has not only addressed the contents of 18 ’shop-window’ cabinets in public areas of the hotel, but has instituted online shopping for guests, accessed through TVs in their rooms, and is offering bespoke services and shopping trips in collaboration with some of London’s top stores and specialist retailers.

Great design often matches speed with quality, given the right mix of complementary talents

The concept will no doubt transfer to other hotels – Change Retail is working exclusively for the Savoy for a year – but as a model in design its strength is the degree of collaboration involved.

Change Retail has forged relationships with retail experts through its illustrious Creative Council, which includes Valerie Wickes of View Creative, who with lifestyle journalist Jo Craven has created Shop at the Savoy’s A-Z-themed quarterly magazine, and visual merchandising star Kate Henderson – people Thompson admits he couldn’t afford full-time. It has brought in groups like Studio DB on interiors and Morning Design on branding and it has achieved it all since July.

Great design often matches speed with quality, given the right mix of complementary talents. Thompson and co have achieved this, creating an exemplary business model in the process.

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