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Crocs, London

US footwear phenomenon Crocs is snapping up shoppers in the heart of London’s Covent Garden.

After the incredible wholesale success of footwear brand Crocs in the UK, it came as no surprise that the brand opted to launch into retail with the opening of a 450sq ft standalone store in London’s Covent Garden last October.

Although Crocs won’t disclose exact figures, sales at the Neal Street shop in its first three months are thought to have been impressive. However, the basic white box-style shopfit is by no means extraordinary. Small and functional, it is nothing like as trendsetting or aesthetically attention-grabbing as the brightly-coloured clogs sold inside.

But Bart Wartena, founder of design consultancy Shopex, which created the store concept, explains that this was exactly the kind of blank canvas-effect that Crocs wanted. On entering, the storefit ensures that shoppers see only the footwear, as well as a huge Crocs logo that is printed on the wall behind the cash desk.

The end result that Crocs hopes to achieve is that the customer will leave after a simple shopping experience, hopefully with both a pair of shoes and the brand’s logo firmly imprinted on their psyche.

The simplicity of the store concept is also logistically in tune with the brand’s rapid expansion plans. When a business is growing as fast as Crocs is, the shopfit must be simple, in the vein of a pre-pack shop-kit, says Wartena.

“The fit is done in such a way that I can send it as a package if needs be. In order to keep up with Crocs’ quick roll-out, the installation must be easy and as simple as getting the rail on the wall and hanging the panels.”

The Neal Street shop is merchandised with a view to showing off the wide variety of bright colours in which the footwear is available. The shoes are hung vertically against a minimal background, ensuring maximum impact. “The idea is that there is rainbow presentation with straight lines of colour,” adds Wartena. However, he says the store concept is still evolving.

The brand uses its flagship store in Scheveningen in the Netherlands as a test site for improvements and new formats. Wartena says: “We are always working on getting the ‘Crocsy’ feeling in-store and playing with new ideas.”

The existing concept was devised after Wartena was approached by Crocs’ European managing director Dick Wijsman with a near impossible ask. “He wanted a store open in two months and I needed to design the concept and install it before Christmas 2006 in Vienna.”

Wartena stepped up to the challenge and has since been responsible for rolling out 21 more stores globally, a number which increases week-on-week as the group presses on with an ambitious store opening programme of between 120 and 150 new stores worldwide this year.

48 Neal Street, London WC2H

Essentials:
450sq ft:
Size of the Neal Street shop floor
1,500: Number of pairs of Crocs displayed in the store
21: Number of Crocs shops around the world

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