(Author : retail design world)
The symbiotic relationship between retail and the food and beverage sector is growing ever-closer, but delegates at Retail Design Expo were warned not to take it for granted. Comptoir Libanais founder Tony Kitous told the conference audience that the fusing of retail and food and drink can only be a success if brands tell authentic stories.
Speaking to delegates on day two of the Expo the founder of the Lebanese retail chain, which also incorporates retail space, said: “Retail is part of our personality. When we first opened, diners would ask us how their food was made, and where they could get the ingredients, so the opportunity to sell the spices we source that people can’t get on the high street was obvious.”
However, he implored others thinking of mixing retail and food not to deviate too much from the brand promise they may already have built up. “Retail is still only 5% in our outlets,” he said. “It’s an important 5%, but what we’ve worked hard to ensure is that the retail contributes to creating a genuine experience for customers.” He added: “Our merchandise surrounds the food area, and the pots and pans and spices we sell also dress the space. But absolutely everything that’s there is there for a reason. When I think of my store design I close my eyes, and I think of my childhood memories and what items can remind me of this. It means every object in my outlets tells a story, a story that is all about celebrating Middle-Eastern food and culture.”
According to Kitous, it’s crucial customers don’t come away thinking the design is cynical, and done just for the sake of doing it. “Some of the things we sell are made by women in villages who would otherwise be out of work. Our products are genuine, not imitations. Our design is not about flashy colours, or logos. It’s simply about being real.”
Gabriel Murray, creative strategist at Studio 48, which helps translate Kitous’s vision into reality said: “Food is increasingly becoming a determining factor in terms of how customers decide which shopping malls they go to. At a time retail is criticised for being more vanilla, and ‘the same’ it’s food and beverage concepts that are becoming more interesting, and adding character to malls.”
Murray added: “Shoppers are gauging their experiences in retail by the quality of the food and beverages on offer. As such, it’s imperative the stories Tony is trying to tell can come to the fore.” Murray’s comments came as Kitous revealed how in the brand’s early days, dealing with malls was difficult. “They would say ‘you can’t’ do this’, or ‘you can’t do that’ when it came to the design ideas I wanted. Eventually, I’ve learned to compromise so that now I, and the malls, are both very happy about the stories we are able to tell.”
Source : retaildesignworld.com