In 2012, as the economical crisis was ravaging the global retail market, a beacon of hope opened on 121 Regent Street. Burberry, the iconic British luxury brand, guided then by Christopher Bailey, Creative Director and Angela Ahrendts, CEO, transformed the listed 4.000m² historic building into an innovative retail space, bringing the physical and digital Burberry brand to life. It was a bold move, which rejuvenated not only the building, but the brand itself. Shortly after its opening, I was fortunate to be taken on a behind the scenes exploration of this wonderful temple of fashion.Yes, the digital innovations and numbers were and are impressive, the high quality of craftsmanship outstanding, but it was observing the customers’ journey in this luscious retail environment and how they interacted with the brand that fascinated me. Burberry´s customers were noticeably spending more time on these polished marble floors, than any other, always a positive sign.
3 years on and Christopher is now the CEO and Angela has moved on to pastures new at Apple and I´m standing yet again marveling at the vibe despite the worst tube strike in 10 years, causing chaos on London´s streets and leaving restaurants and many stores devoid of customers, but not here on 121 Regent Street. My host and store manager takes me on a tour with the grace and professionalism that syncs perfectly with the company she represents. I´m curious to learn how Burberry continues to update and innovate it´s technical presence, but also how it continues to engage with the customer. The visual and audio experience continues to impress with live streaming events being shown in the store and now being shared with other Burberry stores around the planet. The spin-off from this flagship store is now setting the benchmark for its development of up and coming stores. Recently, valuable square meters have been dedicated to the café, Thomas, named after the company’s founder, providing the customer with lobster or afternoon tea, just to heighten even more the shopping experience.
Burberry Regent Street is a timeless flag bearer of innovation and craftsmanship, which has also been inspirational to how we should and can engage with the customer. Any student of retail or brand design would be well advised to pay a visit.