Last week, the team at Retail Ireland Skillnet brought a delegate of retailers to visit some of the top stores in London! This exciting Retail Study Tour focused on store operations with a particular emphasis on the iconic retailers’ omni-channel business models.
The first port of call was Topshop on Oxford Street – The biggest single-brand store in the world!! We were treated to a fascinating overview of how omni-channel selling is incorporated into the store’s daily operations. Were also given a tour of this impressive flagship store for Topshop – and were blown away by the sheer scale of what it had to offer.
Next stop was London’s Fashion Retail Academy where we were given an overview of what the academy offers to its retail employees/students. This was fascinating as, similar to Retail Ireland Skillnet, their courses are also Industry led. Industry expert Fiona Wilson delivered a detailed lecture on the omni-channel experience from an academic and industry perspective and the team came away with some valuable ideas for future training/education needs for our own network.
Storeditch was the final destination of Day 1 – London’s new ‘trendy’ retail destination. This area has seen a massive transformation over the past number of years where big brands, designer boutiques, indie labels and quirky gift shops are muddled together providing hours of endless retail fu and inspiration. New retail hubs have popped up including Boxpark, a parade of shops and eateries based out of shipping containers, and Redchurch street, a street of old industrial warehouses completely transformed by the brands that now call it home. With retail traditionally being based in the west of the city, this tour gave tour attendees another view into a new and emerging challenger retail destination.
Day 2 began with the impressive John Lewis store in Stratford which overlooks the 2012 Olympic stadium. The store’s head, Ruth Sharvona openly shared the history of the store, most interestingly; how they had to adapt the entire business model to suit the local clientele in East London. The tour learned how the John Lewis business model gives each employee part-ownership of the company, a share of its annual profits, and a say in how it is run – which makes employees more invested in their work, ultimately boosting productivity and profits.
The final visit for the Study Tour was to the iconic and inspirational Selfridges in Oxford street – which couldn’t fail to impress tour attendees. Selfridges has a truly fascinating history that supports its excellent reputation for providing a huge range of high quality goods through a shopping experience filled with surprises and unique ways to amuse its customers. The Tour’s behind-the-scenes store visit to Selfridges delivered a truly a unique and unforgettable store experience.
The purpose of this Retail Study tour was to equip tour attendees with unique and exciting ideas to take home to their own retail practices. As leaders within the Irish Retail Industry, it’s vital to stay in touch with current and future trends, particularly as technology will continue to play such a key role in operations. From business models and store layouts, to everyday operations and omni-channel strategies – this tour delivered something for everyone and was inspirational to say the very least!
The tour participants enjoying a networking dinner on Monday night.
Stay tuned for a photo special on the Retail Study Tour!