When the Automobile Association decided to shift the focus of its high street presence, the company understood that interiors for its 159-strong chain of shops would have to be revamped. So in order to create a successful shift in consumer perception, the AA brought in the Lumsden Design Partnership and Light & Coley.
‘The AA wanted to get away from looking like an insurance sales office, with people behind desks, and be a retail concept where sales were based around the many invisible products available,’ says Callum Lumsden.
The consultancy worked on interiors, in close association with Light & Coley, which designed graphics and some literature. The overall concept was geared towards encouraging interaction between AA representatives and customers. Desks have been more or less eliminated and the floor plan means staff can walk around rather than sitting at desks.
‘It’s a less confrontational atmosphere,’ says Lumsden. And Gordon Bremner, design director at Light & Coley, adds: ‘Literature packaging for customers has been designed so that there is a greater opportunity for communication with the staff in the shop, as opposed to the customer picking up a leaflet and taking it away.’
Three product areas – motoring abroad, motoring at home and safety and security – have been defined so customers can easily identify where they can go for their needs. Distinct colourways have been used to brand the areas and colours have also been used to appeal to younger customers.
‘We’ve created a retail environment which, although branded as an AA shop, avoids using the AA yellow and black to death,’ explains Lumsden.
Two pilots opened before Christmas and are being monitored until March, when the concept will be rolled out to an initial 20 sites by the end of 1996.