Topps Tiles has overhauled its store in Worcester as it seeks to test new features that will highlight it as a leader in innovation.
Location, Location, Location presenter Phil Spencer opened the 5,250 sq ft shop, which is the latest iteration of the retailer’s lab format and follows on from its Milton Keynes predecessor.
The store is not designed to show off the latest technology such as in-store iPads but instead is intended to trial more practical elements that improve the store experience.
Commercial director Brian Linnington said: “What we haven’t done is put into here any daft concepts. This is not about doing things we are not serious about”.
Topps Tiles also has an innovation lab in its headquarters where it tests more outlandish concepts.
New features in the lab store include ‘chevron’ display units that can be easily swapped to allow the retailer greater flexibility when dealing with its high turnover of new ranges.
At present Topps Tiles is introducing about one new range of tiles a week.
Topps Tiles is testing a consultation area, which is also in all its boutique stores, to find out if it provides a significant return on investment.
Linnington said: “The [consultation] table is a major investment because you have to find the space and do it in the right way. Rolling it out is a much more difficult decision because it will eat up valuable retail space.”
Topps Tiles has also worked on making the entrance to the store more visually appealing by removing pallets of tiles from the entrance and introducing a display that rotates new products.
Linnington said as part of the business’s innovation push it is seeking inspiration from unlikely sources. Its ‘patchwalk’ tile was inspired by a park in New York, while the Francisco Segarra range was produced using a digital imprint from an abandoned villa in Spain.
Brand ambassador Spencer said: “People think tiling is quite a dull product but that is really no longer the case. “The advances in manufacturing and what they are able to produce at cost has taken off in the last five years.”