Portuguese industrial and retailing giant the Sonae Group is to launch a mother and baby chain with two UK consultancies, Saint Clair Projects and R Design, in line for interiors and graphics work.
The two groups are pitching collaboratively against an unnamed Portuguese consultancy for the brief, with a decision expected early next month.
According to St Clair Projects director Steve Saint-Clair, the Sonae Group, which owns the Continente hypermarkets brand, intends to use its buying power to exploit a gap in the Portuguese market by creating a mid-range specialist childcare brand.
‘There is a big gap between the hypermarket and the more upmarket baby shops,’ he says. The retailer’s brief is for a look that ‘has the qualities of Zara without being too expensive’, St Clair adds.
R Design, which is in line to create the visual identity, naming, packaging design and environmental graphics, including point-of-sale, would not comment on the project.
The new brand will compete against existing international retailers and smaller specialist stores and will sell clothes for newborn babies to eight-year-old children, maternity wear and nursery equipment.
The first evidence of the brand will be a 400m2 pilot store in the Gaia shopping centre in Porto.
The two groups secured a place on the pitch list on the strength of another collaboration for the Sonae Group, creating a health and beauty section for Continente hypermarkets.
The hypermarket chain has identified health and beauty as a high growth sector. The groups’ concepts put the emphasis on cosmetics and ‘establishing the area as an in-store destination in its own right’, says R Design creative director Dave Richmond.
Concepts are due to be piloted in Lisbon in late August and will be rolled out across the chain’s 350-strong estate if successful.