Build-a-Bear Workshop plans a complete refresh of its UK estate and will open four more shops this year.
The specialist toy retailer, which currently has 60 UK stores,m expects to open the next four in the second half of the year.
The refurbishment will create a more interactive store centred on the new ‘Hear Me’ station, which provides sound effects for the bespoke toy bears. The touch screen machine offers customers a much wider range of sounds than the previous 16 options.
It was introduced in the UK last week when the retailer relaunched its shop in Hamleys, which is currently refurbishing the store in time for the Olympics.
A new digital bear bath, which allows children to play with their bear in a computer-generated bath, is also designed to enhance the store experience.
Build-a-Bear is also considering enabling payment in-store using mobile iPads, as has been piloted in the US.
Build-a-Bear founder and chief executive bear Maxine Clark said: “The UK has held up pretty well. The customer is very discerning and they like quality and value and there is a focus on the family. It has been better than in the US, although we have seen a softening over the past few quarters. But considering the close proximity to Europe, London has held up well.”