As the handmade bath and body retailer opens its biggest store yet in Glasgow, Retail Week speaks to Lush head of retail Kasey Swithenbank about what makes the new store different and bringing back a sense of fun
Swithenbank started at Lush in 2010 as a sales associate. In a career spanning over a decade with the retailer, she was promoted to her present role as head of retail at the beginning of this year.
As Lush unveiled its largest store in Glasgow, featuring never-seen-before elements like a shampoo bar, floating bath bombs and a sushi belt carrying favourite soaps, Swithenbank spoke to Retail Week about choosing Glasgow, how the new store brings a playground element to retail and what’s still to come.
Why was Glasgow chosen as the location for your biggest store yet?
“Glasgow has always been a bit of an iconic destination for Lush. We actually have three stores there currently; we’re in an out-of-town retail park and also just within the city centre and a shopping centre. Scotland loves Lush – what can I say?
“It felt like the right thing to do for our Glasgow customers. They’re very loyal. Many of them have shopped with us for a number of years, so to elevate their experience when they come into our shops was really important to us as a business. And, after the opening weekend, I’m very pleased to say that we made the right call on that.
“We saw over 37,000 visitors during the opening weekend, with sales nearly doubling compared with last year. Lush Glasgow City sold 7,000 bath bombs and over 150 per hour during that weekend.”
What makes the new store in Glasgow so different from the rest?
“We love to strike a balance between standard traditional retailing and bringing an experience to the shopfloor. Glasgow will have its own spa, opening in early March 2024, so we’re all very excited about that. We will also have a designated party space in the new year where we can cater to all celebrations; we’ve had hen parties and we’ve even had a divorce party.
“We’ve already opened with a shampoo bar, so customers can go in and have their hair washed using Lush treatments with trained staff, and you can then get your hair styled before you head on out. We have sushi belts that are in rotation and they showcase our skincare and haircare products. There are currently giant bath bombs hanging from the ceiling.
“We really wanted to strike that balance between a convenient shopping space and also just having fun and bringing a bit of a playground element to the shopfloor, which we have done with this store.”
How important is it to have a good physical retail front in today’s climate?
“We are a family-run business and our bricks-and-mortar estate is just as important today as it was when we first started. As human beings, we know that we’re social beings, we love tactile environments, and our shops really offer that.
“We really want our customers to come in, play with the products, get hands-on, and try things out. So we see our shops a bit like community hubs.”
How many stores does Lush plan to open next year?
”We’re always looking for new locations and upsizing. Glasgow was an upsize. We recently also upsized our Bristol and Aberdeen stores to offer something extra for those customers. So there are always things in the pipeline and I’m very excited to see the coming six to 12 months.
“We don’t have a set number of stores for next year. We want to go where our customers want us. Sometimes we actually get requests to our central communication customer care team asking us for certain locations, and that is something that we take into consideration.
“We’ve got just over £10m forecasted to spend in capital expenditure for the investment into physical retail. While half of that went on Glasgow, there are further investments planned for the new year.”