Retail trends at Coal Drops Yard

With its canal-side setting, cobbled streets and Victorian viaducts, Coal Drops Yard brings something unique to London’s shopping scene. The new development located in the heart of Kings Cross, features a mix of stores focusing on independent, premium and specialist brands.

Following a review of the shopping complex, we have delved deeper into the in-store experience and retail design trends apparent across many of the stores visited.


Brand storytelling gets personal

Considering many of the stores are contained within a single Victorian arch, several brands have given up large areas for ‘non-merchandised’ features to make a strong statement about their brand. Canadian footwear designer Tracey Neuls, displays sketchbooks and models in glass cabinets within prime merchandising space, communicating her own design journey. Within Paul Smith there are quirky pieces from his personal collection displayed on midfloor tables, and walls within the men’s suit room are adorned with yen coins signifying the designer’s links with Japan.

Founded in 1886, traditional cobbler Cheany tells a story of craftsmanship with a large portrait of the founder Joseph Cheany, dominating site lines upon entering the store. Also included is a centrally located ‘cutting table’, reminiscent of those found in Cheany’s original factory in Northamptonshire

Fred Perry includes a multi-screen installation filling the majority of the midfloor space, presenting a deconstructed image of the brands laurel wreath logo.


Ethical retailing builds momentum

Promotion of ethics and community is another key trend found in many stores. Originally an online marketplace for independent brands, Wolf & Badger promote on large screens that 75% of profits are given back to their local suppliers.

‘Store Store’ clearly promote their purpose is to ‘drive local change within the urban environment’ and hosts weekly workshops to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to join creative courses. Store Store then sells what children have made in the store and donate the money raised to a charity of their choice.

The ‘wellbeing’ movement is also prevalent; Wolf & Badger promote organic wellness products within their café, and athleisure brand The Sports Edit offer seasonal events and fitness workshops for the local community.

The decision of many brands to include ‘live plants’ as part of the décor, also suggests a desire to be associated with nature and healthy living.


Brand Ambassadors are a must

During our visit staff were keen to engage and share the values of the brand. Perfumer, Miller Harris guided us around their ‘experiential pods’ so that we could absorb the sounds and smells of their fragrances, and within Parisian Chocolatier Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse we were offered samples to try the luxurious flavours. Staff within Store Store were enthusiastic and keen to talk about their cause and within outdoor retailer, Outsiders Store, staff happily volunteered to tell us about the various brands available in store.


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Jenny Hillier

29th November 2018

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