Since first opening in Manchester three years ago, Barber Barber has quickly built a reputation for high quality male grooming in a distinctive environment. The brand has expanded quickly and in addition to Manchester now has stores in Liverpool, Leeds and London. In August a fifth shop, the biggest to date, opened in Birmingham.
Located in the heart of the Bullring, Barber Barber Birmingham had been in the pipeline for a couple of years but owner Johnny Shanahan was conscious of finding a space he could make his own. He told Premier Retail about what the new shop means for the company and the difficulties of turning vision into reality:
“I honestly think Birmingham is one of the most underrated cities in the UK. I think it’s very cool, very clean and there’s plenty of money there. It was a no brainer for us. It was just about finding somewhere that was right.
“When we do go to these cities we need that wow factor and there are very few places around the city centre that would give us that. The way the city is, a lot of the shops are almost on top of each other. When you go for the more bespoke shop it tends to be off footfall traffic and footfall is a big part of what we do.”
The 800 sq ft Bullring unit offers Johnny exactly this and he wasted no time designing the space in his unique style. In the past the struggle has not been finding ideas but getting them across to contractors. On this project operations manager, and more importantly friend, Neil Dignam was on hand to make sure Johnny’s vision was followed closely.
“To me the word design is thrown around a lot, I prefer the word vision. Design is one thing, vision is another. Design is sometimes very textbook, there are rules to design. With vision there are very little rules. Where I’ve struggled in the past was to get a shop fitter or an operations man to actually get stuff out of my brain that would work. I never really stop thinking and anytime I come up with stuff it does sound a bit out there. I have a big thing for neon and I have a big thing for gold and brightness, I’m a little bit of a magpie.”
Key features within the store include a fully stocked bar to keep customers occupied while waiting, either on rich red chesterfield couches or bespoke chairs made in Sicily. The actual barber chairs themselves are cast iron and each weighs over 100 kilos. This marrying of vision with functionality is central to the Barber Barber brand as a whole.
Externally work was slightly trickier with Link Street rules preventing major work being undertaken. That almost stopped the project dead given the distinct visual draw each shop has and needs. The Liverpool store, for example, was opened with a completely new front because the original windows were deemed too small.
However, by allowing the entrance to be moved from the left hand side to the centre of the front glass panel, more room was available for seating down either side. Looking to the future, Johnny has his sights set on Europe and further afield:
“I’m very rarely satisfied, I do tend to go the extra mile when it comes to my stores because my business is much more than just my business; it’s my life. It’s my passion and what separates me from everyone else within the trade. I do believe it’s going to be the biggest global brand in men’s hair that the world has ever seen. To that everything has to be perfect.”
Terry Design is a multi-disciplinary company, capable of delivering design, manufacturing and fit-out services. Established in 1898 and still family owned and run, the company has reinvented itself from commodity-type furniture manufacturers, supplying retailers in the UK and Ireland as McDonagh Furniture, into TERRY Design, a fresh and fast growing bespoke design and fit-out business.
Terry Design’s diverse portfolio ranges from commercial to residential projects in the UK and Ireland. Most recently, Terry Design was involved in the Birmingham-based project, Barber Barber. Working on Barber Barber, Terry Design took the project from initial design brief through production and to full fit-out.
Discussing the importance of the project, Terry McDonagh of Terry Design, said:
“Barber Barber is a dynamic business with a strong brand following and it was great to work with them on this project. Our job was to help the client meet the needs and aspirations for his latest venture and we interpreted the brand guidelines with the highest standards of design and finish.”
“We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients. We strive to push boundaries in both creativity and design, ensuring that no two TERRY projects are the same. The uniqueness and individuality in our projects is our USP.”