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Hotter Comfort Concept, York

Footwear brand Hotter Comfort Concept’s shopfit goes back to nature as part of a wider rebranding

Amid the cobbled streets of Feasegate in York, the new retail concept from mainstream footwear brand Hotter Comfort Concept conjures up a forest theme which plays on the experience of the great outdoors.

Spread over one 600sq ft floor, the shopfit, which was completed late last year, represents a new look for the brand’s standalone stores and is part of a wider rebranding strategy. Hotter Comfort Concept’s first store opened in 2002 in Southport, Lancashire, and it now has six shops in the UK.

“This store is the launch pad for the new Hotter image,” says an upbeat Ian Laws, the brand’s retail operations manager. “We have warmed up the existing logo and extended our wardrobe of court shoes. We felt it was the right time.”

Hotter Comfort Concept was founded in 1959 and is based in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. Every one of the brand’s shoes is manufactured in the UK at its Skelmersdale factory, which attracts bus loads of visitors from groups including the Women’s Institute, keen for a tour around what is now one of the few remaining footwear factories in the UK. The monthly tours are booked up until 2015.

The first thing in the York store to catch the eye is the vase of freshly cut flowers on the central display table. The blooms are understated, but their earthy tones tie in well with the store’s furnishings, which are made from natural fabrics such as linen and wood wall panelling.

The second standout element is a large, almost floor-to-ceiling panel of chunky, mottled glass separating the customer shopping area from the back office. It is reminiscent of a waterfall, and the storefit is geared towards making shoppers feel like they have stepped into a forest grove.

Panelled wall coverings are made of brushed, untreated linen while shelving and fixtures are built in thick, rowan-coloured timber. A green colour theme runs throughout the store, from the new logo, which has grass green-coloured lettering on a moss green background, to the tiny green blocks which hold price cards on the display shelves. Elsewhere, on the ceiling, subtle impressions of clouds have been painted to give the feeling of an outdoor space.

Upbeat customer testimonials are printed on the wall adjacent to the front window, in a bid to present customers with a confident feeling as they step inside.

Women’s accessories are hung on a raw plastered wall on the right-hand side of the store, its unfinished look offering a contrast to the store’s deeply considered marketing image makeover. Stuffy, comfort market-led advertisements have been left behind and an image of a female model wearing the brand’s footwear has been printed onto canvas to communicate a more modern message, which should help ensure the continued popularity of the 50-year-old brand.

Essentials

  • 600sq ft Size of the York store
  • 240 Number of styles stocked in the store
  • 20% Proportion of the product mix that is made up of men’s footwear
  • Eight Number of staff in the York store

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