Shoe shops tend not to be the sort of places that most people linger in, for no better reason than that when you’ve bought a pair of shoes it’s a case of job done and head for the exit. This, along with surplus space, may be the reason why the Danish shoe brand Ecco has chosen to put a cafe on the first floor of its flagship store in Cologne.

Size matters if you’re a shoe retailer and according to Ecco concept manager in international retail Albert Kristensen this is one of the few branches the brand owns where it can offer a “total family experience”. Translated, this means that this is a shoe shop for men, women and children.

But the layout is rather less simple than this age and gender divide might suggest. The ground floor lead-in is provided by formal footwear. Casual shoes follow this with children’s stock towards the back. Upstairs is about lifestyle, with a section for golf shoes and one for performance shoes.

Couple all this with a distinctly upscale fit-out that includes oak ceilings, Italian porcelain tiles and a cash desk formed from translucent, internally lit panels and a high gloss top, and you have a shop that shines.

While considering that ill-advised purchase, there’s always time to head off for coffee and a cake – shoes, after all, are generally an investment purchase. Kristensen says that this is a blueprint for future stores in large cities. In these straitened times, it’s good to see some brands continuing to invest in good-looking environments.

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