When it comes to children’s footwear, it’s all about the parents.
Address Unit 118, Lakeside, Essex
Brands Multiple and all casual
Opened October 12, 2012
Store concept Briggs Hillier
They are the ones who tend to select what their children wear on their feet. Parental choice might still be the dominant factor, but things are changing. At the upper end of the kids’ footwear age scale, the matter of which style to wear begins to shift away towards the child.
Add branding to the equation and for most kids it becomes a matter of consultation with the parent, owing to the price tag that is likely to be involved.
This may be why branded footwear retailer Schuh has opened a spin-off format dubbed Schuh Kids, next door to the main Schuh store in Lakeside. This is one of a trio of pilot stores, and initial reactions have been positive, according to staff.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Making shoes, other than at the top end, look interesting in terms of display is always something of a challenge. That said, it is actually quite hard not to look at what has been done in Schuh Kids owing to an uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling glass window and a brightly lit interior. The window display is fairly standard stuff, consisting of a series of relatively neutral plinths that don’t overshadow the colourful stock. Inside the store, the layout means it really is child’s play to find your way to the appropriate part of the shop. And most of the action, in display terms, takes place around the perimeter where everything from climbing frames to open-fronted boxes have been used to present the offer.
02 - CONCEPT
This is a white box that has had colour and whimsical wallpaper added to it to make the interior an interesting place to visit. Putting the cash desk at the back of the shop and placing a screen next to this where computer games can be played leaves the mid-shop free for display and seats. Design consultancy Briggs Hillier has worked hard on this one and come up with a format that is likely to appeal to parents and children alike.
03 - SERVICE
Staff tend to be enthusiastic when a new shop opens and the three female sales assistants were helpful and clearly pleased with the environment they were working in. On the evening of visiting (a Tuesday, around 7.30pm) the centre was relatively quiet and so there were no shoppers in the store, as was the case in almost every other shop in the mall. Your correspondent therefore had the undivided attention of the staff and they were chock-full of information. The store was immaculately tidy.
04 - PRODUCT
The point about branded children’s footwear is that for the most part it’s about mini-me credibility. There is a sense that if your children can be clad in Hunters, Ugg, Converse or Vans, then this will reflect well upon you. For Schuh Kids, this means that almost every casual mainstream footwear brand that you might care to mention is given representation in this store. What’s on offer is an edited version of each brand, but this does equate to an appealing, albeit pretty expensive, offer.
05 - COMPETITION
As with any offer where the buyers have decided to offer multiple brands, what is on view in Schuh Kids represents a distillation of a broader offer that would be available somewhere else, and probably just a few paces away, if you happen to be in Lakeside. What this format does, however, is allow you to choose from a wide selection of brands without having to traipse around the mall (with tired kids in tow). Competitors are therefore everywhere in Lakeside, but there is little in the way of standalone multi-brand kids’ offers, making this an effective niche operator.
06 - VERDICT - THE PROSPECTS ARE GOOD
Schuh has been around for a long time and there is more reason for this new format than for the parent from which it has had its genesis, as shoe shops offering brands for children, with the obvious exception of Clarks, are conspicuously thin on the ground. The depth of brands is both weakness and strength however. Branded footwear, for kids or adults, is more expensive than its private-label equivalent.
The outcome is that Schuh Kids will work rather better in areas where higher levels of disposable cash are the norm.