Changing face of the High Street

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Article by ROS SNOWDON CITY EDITOR Yorkshire Post Published: 17:29 Monday 08 June 2015

Leeds-based architecture firm Design Time has ​completed ​a global flagship store for Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics on ​the busiest high street in the UK and forecasts that more retailers will focus on megastores and close down their high street shops.

The new flagship store is on London’s Oxford Street, which attracts over 30 million shoppers each year, at the Cross Rail intersection with Tottenham Court Road. The site is set to become one of the busiest transit hubs in the world with over 80 million passengers passing through each year.

Design Time​‘s managing ​d​irector Steve Moore s​aid​: “We’re going to see more of this destination type megastore, which contains lots of retail theatre and excitement, and probably less of the old fashioned high street store which characterises the last decade​.”​ ​​

The ​new Lush ​store features an elaborate staircase, ​a ​folding shop​ ​front​, which can be open or closed depending on the weather​, and sound​-​proofed spa treatment rooms, offering ​an ​escape ​for​ shoppers and tourists on Britain’s premier shopping street. The development is set to be awarded a gold rating in a scheme for environmentally sustainable works.

The project has been nominated for this year’s Retail Interiors Awards, and will feature in of a forthcoming documentary on the BBC, currently ​in production.​ ​Mr Moore ​said the new store is a reflection of what he describes as “Retail Darwinism”, which refers to how retail is changing in the age of the internet. Rather than having 300 local stores, Mr Moore said retailers now want major flagships and large regional megastores which promote the brand.

Customers will then purchase goods via the internet, retail stores, or direct from the flagship having made a special trip there. “With the challenge of the internet we are seeing a major shift in retailing an​d​ forward​-​looking retailers are seeking to operate a smaller number of larger stores,” he said. “Property costs are huge in locations like this, so our experience in creating vibrant retail spaces is a niche market with global potential.”

The group has worked with a number of retailers in Yorkshire, including Space NK and Coast in the Victoria Quarter of Leeds and Levi’s in York. Its clients range from upmarket brands like Burberry to mass market players like Superdrug. “A lot of high street stores have closed since 2008, especially fashion retailers which have closed a lot of loss making stores,” said Mr Moore. “Retailers are now concentrating their efforts on one or two flagships and maybe up to a dozen megastores in the major cities. That’s a big trend in retail property.”

Design Time has already designed and project managed the construction of the global flagship Asics store at 527 Oxford Street. The store is set over three floors and provides advanced technological services and professional advice for runners, a running club and an extensive collection of footwear and apparel. ​

It is also designing a 5,000 sq ft Oxford Street flagship store for Planet Organic, which sells food, well being and beauty products. The store will include an organic cocktail bar. ​

Design Time is celebrating its thirtieth birthday this year after opening its doors during the consumer boom in 1985. The company now operates internationally with a number of major clients such as sushi chain Wasabi, cosmetics brand Space NK, jeans store Levi’s, luxury goods chain Burberry and lifestyle and fashion brand O’Neill. “There has been much change in the nature of retail, and we’ve been lucky to have some talented designers here in Leeds​,” said Design Time’s managing director Stephen Moore​. ​

“​As a business we are poised to bring the latest retail designs and trends to our local market. “We are eager to partner Yorkshire business​es​ that are delivering inspiring spaces​.​”​​

The firm specialises in working with partners in the retail, food and beverage sectors. Based in The Calls area of central Leeds, the company works all over the UK and in Europe, the Middle East and Far East. It said that clients include large multinational corporations and small independent retailers.

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