With a focus on Gen Z customers, Schuh’s refurbished Bristol store trails a new design benchmark for the footwear chain.
Footwear retailer Schuh updates its store design concepts every five years to ensure that it offers innovative and fresh experiences to its customer base. Its latest iteration – dubbed TwentyTwenty – was rolled out six months early, debuting at existing store The Centre in Livingston, which opened in April.
A new merchandising strategy, versatility of fixtures, the integration of digital content and payment convenience are at the core of the concept, designed specifically to engage with the “14-to-24-year-old” Gen Z shopper. With no “landlocked” merchandising, the look and layout of stores can be easily and frequently reconfigured, while all till points have been removed in favour of speedy handheld payment devices.
Bristol is the latest store to be updated and reopened in May after four weeks of refurbishment. Located at Cabot Circus shopping centre, the store first opened 10 years ago and comprises 1,851 sq ft of sales space and a 5,124 sq ft stockroom.
The striking new shopfit, which was masterminded by design consultancy Briggs Hillier and for which Schuh declines to reveal the investment, stands out from the street. The retailer’s logo has been updated to make it “modern, young and not fussy”, according to Schuh’s head of visual merchandising, Sara Metcalfe.
Stepping inside, a simple, neutral palette of grey ceramic tiles, aluminium and black and white solid surfaces combine with bright colour pops to create a powerful backdrop for product. This is further enhanced by the lighting scheme: neon lights join illuminated arches, which have been designed to pick out key displays with striking shards of light.
Product is displayed on multifunctional plinths that can be used for general shoe displays, or as mirrors or window product stands. Flexible merchandising “fins” extend from the perimeter wall into the mid-floor and can also be moved throughout the space to allow Schuh to respond and adapt quickly to changing trends and peak seasons.
Schuh now separates its products into “sports” and “fashion”: the front section of the store is dedicated to sportswear with collections presented by brand. On-trend trainers are now deliberately placed at the front to appeal to the retailer’s Gen Z customer base.
In this sports section, the traditional gender categorisations are no longer used, which avoids repeating styles across former men’s and women’s sections – this allows Schuh to reduce shop-floor stock by 20%.
Herringbone timber backdrops help make a distinction between sports and fashion sections, with fashion in the middle of the store; men’s on one side and women’s on the other. Metcalfe adds: “The fashion section deserves to be departmentalised into genders because men and women shop differently [for these products].”
The Bristol store now features a dedicated Schuh Kids department at the back with an evolved look that aligns with the wider store concept. Kids’ footwear, also displayed in brand groupings instead of gender, is located on display towers.
Metcalfe says: “Schuh stores without a kids’ section will be taking out cash desks against the back walls and replacing them with Schuh Kids. That’s the direction for Schuh, the vast majority of stores will be hybrid.”
A large digital screen is centrally located at the rear of the store, acting as an anchor point to engage customers with “edgy” content. The digital wall screens are fully flexible and moveable and will feature Schuh campaigns, service and promotional messages, brand partner campaigns, as well as influencer content. [To here] “We are trying to introduce the younger, primary customer back into Schuh through the use of visual and digital content,” says Metcalfe.
Payment can now be completed on iScan handheld devices so the customer does not have to leave their seat. Where terminals are required, four flexible kiosks are located at intervals along the perimeter wall: sales advisers can take their customer to any kiosk so there is no need to queue.
“Our target market is, and has always been, a young audience. However, we now have a laser focus on 14- to 24-years-olds,” says Colin Temple, Schuh’s managing director. “We have recalibrated Schuh significantly over the past 12 months, working hard to transform our business under very difficult trading conditions. We have experienced challenging sales, margin pressure as a result of a highly promotional retail environment, and marketplace constraints minimising our ability to leverage fixed property expenses. Strategically we are focused to deliver initiatives to further enhance customer experience this year that include our new transformational TwentyTwenty store design as well as CRM personalisation and driving brand awareness via customer out of home and digital recruitment.”
This shop fit will be rolled out to Schuh’s 10,244 sq ft store in Market Street, Manchester, opening in October, and its 13,406 sq ft Oxford Circus flagship in February 2020. A rolling refurbishment programme will see the existing Schuh store portfolio gradually converted.
Schuh at a glance
123 UK stores (including kids)
10 stores in Ireland
Women’s from £18 for Hype sliders up to £210 for Ugg boots
Men’s from £22 for Nike sliders up to £269 for Red Wing leather boots
Kids’ from £13 for Adidas sliders (toddlers) up to £125 for Ugg boots (Junior)