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Shopwatch: Lacoste

Lacoste’s revamped Regent Street flagship showcases the brand’s upmarket intentions.

Lacoste revealed a new retail concept when it threw open the doors of its revamped Regent Street store this month. The two-storey building next to the Apple Store has been closed since late last year and is the first to receive the new treatment, which sees the sports fashion business focus on its premium lines.

According to Lacoste UK chief executive Joaquim Pedro Fidalgo Álvaro Pássaro: “Regent Street is a test, the first step.”

Within the next six to eight weeks, the brand famous for its iconic crocodile logo will start rolling out the new look to Tokyo, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris and New York, while a complementary “digital flagship” website is being readied for later this year. The concept has taken Lacoste’s new tagline - ‘life is a beautiful sport’ - as its starting point, with archive sports and campaign images displayed throughout the store that make the most of Lacoste’s 80-year-plus heritage.

Pássaro says: “Jose [Luis Duran, global chief executive] refers to this [concept] as a more elegant, lifestyle-driven brand, and this is something we wanted to recreate with the new boutique. We wanted to make the customer’s in-store experience easier when they visit Regent Street. We’re focusing on engaging our customers by providing them with key products from our seasonal collections, as well as championing our iconic product. The polo bar [the wall of polo shirts, above] has been reworked completely with a new look and feel.”

The store was designed in-house by Philippe Phi, head of architecture and design for Lacoste, who previously worked for make-up retailer Sephora and entertainment chain Fnac. He has used viroc (a cement-based material), oak, concrete and marble as its principal materials. A mezzanine floor has been added, as has a wall of mirrors.

Originally a store with 2,260 sq ft of selling space, the new shopfit has reduced that to 2,023 sq ft, after chopping back a full floor to create a mezzanine that is used to attract customers to the first floor. Lacoste claims footfall has increased by a third since this was introduced.

The rest of the collection is split over the two floors. The ground floor houses Lacoste menswear, both the mainline, which is priced from £65 for a short-sleeved shirt to £580 for a macintosh, and Lacoste Sport, which ranges from £30 for a jersey T-shirt to £190 for a hooded taffeta tracksuit. It will also include kidswear, priced from £20 for a jersey T-shirt to £150 for a hooded taffeta tracksuit.

There is also an ‘event box’ space, which will host seasonal capsule collections. The launch collection is a maritime flags-inspired range, which is priced from £50 for a baseball cap to £160 for a hooded windbreaker.

On the first floor the store has a dedicated polo wall featuring its casual shirt range in all available colourways, offering an eye-catching contrast to the grey and black minimalist shopfit.

The floor also hosts footwear (from £22 to £185), leather goods and accessories (from £30 for a cardholder to £225 for a computer bag), and Lacoste’s mainline womenswear (from £30 for a crew-neck T-shirt to £580 for a macintosh). The store will not include the Live sub-brand, which is deliberately being left out.

“We’re focusing on our core lines - premium casualwear and sports,” Pássaro explains.

This focus on moving Lacoste into a more upmarket space should come as no surprise to those who have been following Duran’s strategy since he took the reins in early 2013, following the company’s €1bn (£858m) acquisition by Swiss holding company Maus Frères in November 2012. In an interview with Drapers last summer, Duran outlined his plans to shift its pricing structure upwards, reducing the proportion of shirts retailing for below €100 (£86) from 95% to 75%. “It’s not about pricing, it’s about added value,” he said.

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