Smiggle, which now has 132 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, with another 10 openings in the pipeline for the coming weeks, has just opened a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road.
The flagship is the brand’s first store in the world arranged on two levels, and at 1400 square feet is its biggest in terms of floor and wall space. It has the largest variety of product of any of its global stores.
John Cheston, managing director of Smiggle, said: “This is a landmark moment in the life of the Smiggle brand. After incredible growth throughout the UK since we arrived here in 2014, it is really exciting to see Smiggle in the heart of London’s Oxford Street.
“We are confident that Londoners and visitors alike will love our brand new store. And, we’re proud to bring 15 jobs to this iconic location.”
In a video interview with Retail Week, Cheston said the brand tries very hard to compete with ‘the dreaded screen.’ They’ve carried this through by including an ‘Interaction Table’ in the new store, to encourage kids to try the products out, and give them ideas about how Smiggle products can stimulate their creative imaginations, whether it’s making t-shirts, decorating journals or designing jewellery. Cheston says it allows the customer to touch, smell and experience the product. It’s their biggest Interaction Table in any of their stores globally, and demonstrates the brand’s commitment to ramping up the experiential aspect of its bricks-and-mortar stores.
Smiggle seems to withstand many of the challenges other high-street brands face. Cheston cites ‘pester power’ as one of the reasons, even at times when parents are tightening their belts. He says parents always want to treat their children, but is quick to assert that no brand is immune from a slow down. This plays a part in their considered and strategic approach to store sites. They have to be sure a location is the right fit for the brand, consider rental costs, productivity and labour costs.
Cheston says Smiggle continues to thrive because the brand strives to ‘delight’ fans with an ever-changing product offer. But he states the brand has to keep humble, stay on its A-game and continue to delight its customers with exciting new product they can spend their pocket money on.
As for where the brand is heading, Cheston says that online in the UK is performing better than it is in Australia, but that their business strategy remains more focussed on physical stores than developing the online platrom, as their customers want to see, touch and play with products in stores. He states that the brand’s commitment to opening bricks-and-mortar stores is unwavering.