20/20 Applies animal magic to Pets At Home store design

Retail specialist 20/20 has overhauled the store design and brand communications for Pets At Home, as the company continues to expand its national and international presence.

Investment in the brand follows the acquisition of Pets At Home by European private equity group Bridgepoint in 2004. 20/20, which has an existing relationship with Bridgepoint, was brought in to redevelop the stores as part of a three-year business plan for Pets At Home, according to consultancy managing director Jim Thompson.

The design is an attempt to inject a ‘distinct brand personality’ into the business, which has previously relied on a supermarket model to display its products. ‘The stores were performing well, but lacked personality, and the brand was fairly invisible,’ says Thompson.

Retailing predominantly through out-of-town retail parks, Pets At Home has an average store size of 900m2 and stocks pet food, accessories and some live animals.

‘The environments were quite supermarket-driven, with long aisles of products and lots of rows of dry and wet pet food, which is the core product. But then there were other areas, such as accessories, which were treated in the same way, despite the fact that they could be much more interesting,’ adds Thompson.

20/20’s scheme separates commoditised products, such as pet food, from more ‘browsable’ items to help break up the store environment. It has redesigned all graphic communications, including a minor update to the main identity.

Large-scale, ‘humorous’ photography of animals and colour-coding are placed at a high level to mark out the different store areas, which have a greater ‘shop-in-shop’ feel under the new design. Within these zones, product categories are denoted by graphic silhouettes of animals. A tone-of-voice system has been introduced to all written communications, including ‘Did you know?’-style fact boxes placed around the stores.

The most crucial area, according to Thompson, was the design of the live animals zone, which houses small animals such as rabbits, hamsters and ferrets. ‘We needed to bring these to a much higher level of customer experience and create more visibility of the ‘cuddly’ animals for children. So we introduced glass-sided units at a child’s head height,’ he says.

Pets At Home will now roll out a refurbishment programme to update its existing estate of stores, as well as opening new outlets under the 20/20 scheme. The company has more than 170 shops across the UK and is also building a joint venture in Australia. Thompson declined to reveal the consultancy’s fee for the work.

A NATION OF PET LOVERS

• More than half of UK homes house a pet

• Consumers spent more than £1.5bn on pet food in 2005

• There is a growing trend toward ownership of more exotic animals

Source: Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association

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