Hamleys appoints US design group

Iconic British toy retailer Hamleys is to launch an international retail format and has plumped for US design group Chute Gerdeman Retail to undertake the design work.

The Ohio-based group was appointed following a six-way pitch against undisclosed UK and US groups, and briefed to create the Hamleys largeformat, 3250m2-plus global stores, as well as update its renowned Regent Street flagship store in London.

Hamleys trading director Paul Currie says Chute Gerdeman Retail was chosen on the strength of its international network and its background in creating ‘experiential’ retail environments. Consultancy principal Denny Gerdeman says the group’s focus on ‘bringing personality into the store’ tipped the scales in its favour during the pitch. ‘We focus a lot on engaging consumers, where European designers are more about modern, clean lines, and are more systemsoriented,’ claims Gerdeman.

The first store to sport the new look is scheduled to open in Dubai next year. According to Currie, the retailer has signed a contract to launch a further six stores in the Middle East, spanning Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Under the expansion drive, Hamleys aims to have a total of ten largeformat sites trading by 2010, in areas including India, China and South East Asia. From January next year, the Regent Street site and airport locations will also be updated.

Creative concepts are yet to be agreed, but Gerdeman says the designs will focus on ‘bringing a visual “wow” factor to every area of the store’.

Currie is also keen to strengthen Hamleys’ brand presence. ‘We want it to be clear that toy manufacturers’ brands are guests in our brand environment and that’s a big step change for us,’ he says.

An earlier format for Hamleys’ smaller stores and concessions was developed by Gregor Partnership and applied to European stores.

‘We opened three stores in Denmark in October 2005 with a new design that worked effectively, but which highlighted the need to create something exciting and appealing in all markets,’ adds Currie.

Chute Gerdeman Retail president Brian Shafley will lead the design team on the project.

• Founded in 1760 and based in Regent Street since 1881
• Privately owned until listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1994
• Returned to private ownership in 2003 under Baugur, the Icelandic retail group, and Hamleys management team
• Previously worked with design consultancies including Vivid Brand and Gregor Partnership

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