Delving into the design of schuh’s new Fosse Park store!

Following the launch of schuh’s new and exciting Fosse Park store last week, we take a moment to explore the design concept that we’ve been rolling out across schuh’s estate in more detail.

schuh x Briggs Hillier: A 20 year partnership

With a partnership spanning over 20 years, our studio has worked collaboratively with schuh on the design and rollout of several new store concepts. We reveal the rationale behind the design of the footwear retailer’s current concept first introduced to the high street in 2020.

THE CHALLENGE

Briggs Hillier were appointed by schuh to design and deliver a new store concept that would align with the retailer’s commercial objectives and yield results that exceed expectations. This would mean designing a store that is brave enough to disrupt the high street and attract global partner brands for collaboration opportunities.

With a particular focus on 16-24 year olds, digital integration and storytelling moments would be key to creating a holistic approach to schuh’s multi-channel retail strategy and connecting with a fashion-forward demographic of trend seekers. Not to mention, the design must demonstrate commercial viability through its ability to be rolled out en mass, illustrate durability, and cost-effectively retrofit schuh’s expanding estate.

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OUR APPROACH

Gathering insight through research into consumer profiles & the competitor landscape

Prior to designing the latest schuh store concept, we undertook an interrogation into the competitor landscape and the consumer profiles of the retailer since the beginning of their campaign founded in Edinburgh in 1981. Our research suggested that schuh had fostered a rare loyalty among its customers, capturing new customers between the ages of 16-24 over the last few decades while retaining their custom as they grow older.

Upon identifying the unique traits of Gen Z to target this young cohort in our store concept for schuh, our vision boards explored several store facets – including fascias, digital, hero spaces, category areas, kiosk & payment services, lighting, and signage & communication – to uncover an overarching design direction.

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Forming a design strategy & set of VM principles for an excellent store experience

Before refining a creative that would exemplify the concept, we developed a strategy that would form the foundation of the design. This included understanding how the space should be utilised with regard to schuh’s main category areas – sport, fashion, and kids – based on product density for each.

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We designed a retail system that has been optimised in every way. It facilitates product stories, offers seamless navigation, exceptional customer experience and is operationally efficient. Merchandising components include multi-functional plinths that can be used for product display, mirrors, window plinths and kiosk payment stations, and flexible merchandising ‘fins’ that extend from the perimeter wall into the midfloor, and can be moved throughout the space to influence customer flow.

schuh’s retail system creates an agile store layout that is fully flexible to adapt to changes in the market and trending styles; with no land locked merchandising, the digital and physical product mix can be dynamic! The bespoke and highly flexible perimeter wall accommodates a suite of merchandising components, including entirely moveable digital screens that introduce compelling brand stories amongst popular product ranges.

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Unveiling the creative identity of schuh’s twentyTWENTY concept

Our colour and material exploration landed on a palette that would create a neutral space which can be layered and coloured with product and graphical treatments. Anodized metals, light timber, polished concrete, stainless steel, herringbone, mirror, green accents and neon lighting would define the space and illustrate category transitions – supporting intuitive navigation around the store.

Alongside our material exploration, we also sought to explore how we could leverage the ceiling space to accentuate schuh’s personality, landing on an illuminated cubed arch design which has come to be a signature of schuh stores across the UK. This key store feature not only creates visual continuity throughout the store but a huge impact from the entrance, too.

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We layered a mix of graphical print and digital elements into the designs to get a feel for how schuh’s branding assets can sit together for maximum stand out. Opportunities for the digital display of schuh and partner brand campaign visuals are presented via screens nestled among merchandise, as well as a large-scale screen positioned towards the back of the store displaying hero campaigns and brand takeovers.

Further disruption is created via graphic application, mirror décor and neon signage applied to the perimeter wall, alongside ‘hidden’ messaging characterising schuh’s playful personality.

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THE RESULTS

We created a flexible store concept that would stand the test of time and react to ever-changing consumer preferences, as well as sector-specific and wider-industry trends. We look forward to continuing our design journey with schuh as we continue to roll-out the concept to new and existing store locations while carving a path for the future of retail.

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Left: schuh Oxford Street, Right: schuh Fosse Park

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Lucy Mister

12th September 2023