Upmarket furniture retailer Conran Shop is poised to roll out its new store design across the business after reporting a strong Christmas.
Conran Shop managing director Nick Moore said the 15% sales jump in the eight weeks to Christmas was “largely driven” by the Fulham store, which it revamped last year. It accounts for 20% of the retailer’s sales.
The furniture specialist remodeled the layout, changing 80% of the product mix over six months. Conran Shop will roll out the new look format to the remainder of its 10-stores estate in the UK, Ireland, France and Japan.
The refresh included introducing new categories such as beauty and fragrance and pet accessories as well as a new interior design service and kids section.
“We’ve made this the ultimate portrayal of the brand,” said Moore. He added that Jasper Conran – who replaced his father, design supremo Terence Conran, as chairman of the retailer last July – spearheaded the initiative. Moore said Jasper has injected “energy, pace, passion and enthusiasm” into the business.
“We have a very clear focus on strategy,” said Moore. “We’ll get the home of the brand right first. We’ll test it then roll it out elsewhere.”
The Conran Shop’s Marlyebone store in London will be the next to be revamped, followed by its Paris shop by September. The retailer will also relaunch its websites under conranshop.com, which will house its UK, French and Japanese businesses. At the moment, all the countries run their own separate websites.
Moore said the business is eyeing further growth opportunities abroad despiter closing its only US shop – a concession in ABC Carpet & Home in New York – last July to focus efforts on the UK.
He said Conran Shop could open stores as large as its Fulham flagship “in any capital city”. “We would love to go back to the States with a standalone store,” said Moore.
The retailer will focus on pop-up shops to expand in the UK, and will take learnings from its new seasonal ‘shop-in-shop’ in the Fulham flagship, which this week was transformed into a Valentine’s Day ‘Love Shack’. At Christmas it sold festive products.
“Pop-ups are very good from a brand building perspective,” said Moore.
Moore said Conran Shop’s downturn-defying performance over Christmas was down to “getting everything right at once”. He added: “It starts with the product – get product people want, display it in the most enticing way, back it up by fantastic service, and give customers something new.”
Online sales also boosted Conran Shop’s overall growth. Web sales now represent 15% of revenues, up from 10% 18 months ago.
Moore said the response from customers to the new Fulham store design has been “absolutely phenomenal”. “Footfall increased dramatically,” he said. “We suddenly regained the position of being one of the must see places to visit in London. We haven’t been that for a few years.”
However, Moore remained cautious on the outlook for 2013, describing the economy as still “completely unpredictable”.
“I can’t see that changing,” he said. “Consumers have been nervous to spend on big ticket for the last few years. People are not moving house. Years back we could have relied upon a slice of the furniture market sales from people moving house. The choice for the consumer is should we go on holiday or get that sofa.”
The retailer scrapped its Well Considered value range and instead widened its price points. “It is still critical we’re accessible, still got lots of goodies at £10,” said Moore.