Redeveloping de Gruchy’s
The first phase of work on the total refurbishment of the existing de Gruchy’s department store in St Helier has recently been completed with the re-launch of the new-look store in September. The store also unveiled a new brand ethos called ‘Forever Inspired’, which aims to encapsulate the heritage and authenticity of the company and its future proposition.
The department store is one of the oldest in the UK and the Channel Islands, and has been trading in Jersey for over two hundred years, from a landmark building in the town’s main shopping area, King Street. Founded by Abraham de Gruchy, alongside his wife, Marie Le Brocq in 1810 the original shop was based near St Peter’s Church which became the start of the de Gruchy’s store we now know today. The property at the time was known as La Grande Maison, and this had been the residence of the two 18th century Lieutenant Bailiffs, Le Geyt. Due to its purpose-built nature, the store has vast open floors that are perfect for today’s retail requirements.
De Gruchy’s is owned by Ulster Stores, alongside Moores of Coleraine, The White House in Portrush and Clare’s of Llandudno in Wales. With the interior designed by Caulder Moore, one of the UK’s leading specialist retail design companies, in collaboration with Axis Mason architects and Bridgewater Project Management, the refurbishment of the store, which is part of a £15 million improvement plan, began in April 2015. It included work on all three trading floors – the ground, first and second floors. This work was conducted whilst the store remained open to trade.
A new escalator well in the middle of the floor was built and the store’s layout was reworked to make it flow better for customers. The main contractors for the refurbishment of the department store were Style Shopfitting who carried out the majority of the works, including the installation of new energy efficient lighting as well as a number of new flooring finishes such as ceramic tiles, timber flooring, carpet and vinyl flooring.
Founded in 1974, Style Shopfitting, have experience delivering both large capital projects and small fit outs, which have earned them a strong reputation and client base in both Jersey and Guernsey. For this project, their services included the fit out of the shop units and minor demolition work that included the removal of some structural elements. It also included fire rated screens with the sliding doors to the arcade and the installation of the new escalator and necessary groundworks as well as glass balustrade.
“Style Shopfitting worked closely with us to ensure that as much of the shop floor could remain operational while the rest of the work was being undertaken,” commented Neville Moore, the Managing Director at Ulster Stores. The interior upgrade of de Gruchy’s department store also featured the installation of high quality luxury washrooms, the refurbishment of two catering units as well as many in-store treatments and service areas to create a real experience for the customers. New offices and a customer reception area on the second floor of the store were also built in order to create an improved space for those customers.
At the same time as upgrading the department store, many of the original period features that belonged to the building were brought back into play such as staircases that were being used as fire escapes. “They were architecturally very striking and we were able to bring them back into the main body of the store,” added Neville. The Grade II listed façade was also cleaned, with some of the original features reinstated.
The store also had some fabulous ornate ceilings that had become obscured with services over time. These have now been stripped back and restored to their original condition. They have been brought to life with a really striking lighting scheme using the latest LED technology.
Energy efficiency has been a huge gain for the store commented Neville. “All of the lighting and air-conditioning has been replaced with low energy fittings which is great for the environment and our customers. Ongoing running and maintenance costs will also be significantly lower than previously.”
Within the newly refurbished department store is a gallery of brands that range from high street to high label. There is something for every customer from Chanel, Gant and LK Bennett to the exclusively stocked La Mer, Mulberry and Tom Ford.
Along with the luxurious lines themselves, there is also the coffee shop ‘Infusion’ now operated by the Tiffin Restaurant Group, which sits on the first floor where shoppers can grab a refreshing tea, or coffee, with fresh snacks and salads also available. De Gruchy’s iconic Brasserie, now also under Tiffin’s control, has been refurbished to keep with the store’s new ‘Forever Inspired’ brand identity. Customers can relax with the offer of hot drinks in a welcoming, uncluttered space and delicious homemade food prepared onsite daily.
Tucked up on its own special floor (accessed via the sweeping staircase beside the upstairs coffee shop), Fabriah provide a range of specialist hair and beauty services for both women and men. This area is split into three main sections – hair, beauty and nails. With the refurbishment, the hair and beauty rooms can now offer both quick fix beauty and hair treatments such as brow shaping, blow dries and express tanning services as well as more luxurious therapies including massage, facials and luxury specialist packages.
The salon features a fantastic range of skin care which includes Clarin’s Triactive Facial treatments and specialist treatments such as Crystal Clear Microdermabrasion, face and body exfoliation as well as luxurious reflexology and massage treatments.
The store also boasts a brow and nail bar on the ground floor operated by London specialist Shavata. Brand new to the store is a dedicated men’s barbering area located on the ground floor adjacent to menswear. This is complimented with a range of mens grooming products.
In addition to the department store refurbishment, what was a car park adjacent to the store will be developed into a new 37,000ft2 retail unit for the retail brand Next. The main contractors on this part of the project are AC Mauger Ltd who plan to have the building completed and handed over in the Spring of 2017. The new build will be a three storey store with two floors of retail and one floor of storage, and is a standard steel-framed construction with a curtain walled glazed system to the front of the building. It will feature two lifts and two escalators to help ease access to each floor.
The project is an important one for not only the store itself, but the local community as the company employs more than 200 people in Jersey. “As the owner and managing director of de Gruchy’s, I think it lets us deliver a high quality, luxury department store and shopping experience for our local customers and for those visit Jersey,” commented Neville. It has brought a significant increase to that area of St Helier as the state-of-the-art retail environment ensures customers will have a premium shopping experience and will boost St Helier’s High Street as a whole, bringing more people to the island.
As the development was a complete refurbishment of the existing building, including the new retail unit, there were some challenges that the team had to face. “The biggest challenge was planning the project to physically deliver all the work while the store still traded particularly as the project was over a significant period of time,” added Neville. Other challenges included maintaining safe access for the store employees and the public while the works were being undertaken as well as installing foundations and groundworks for the escalator and the structural steel frame for the new staircase within an operational store.
Coinciding with this launch, de Gruchy announced its partner charity for the next year, Jersey Hospice Care, and is helping to raise money for the charity. During the launch of the new store they were given a boost with a prize raffle that had prizes in excess of £4,000.
Specialising in the design and supply of bespoke lighting, Intensity is a leading name within the retail sector. The company has been in operation for 30 years and within this time has been involved with various prestigious projects, including Brown Thomas in Dublin, Fabled by Marie Claire in London and The Whisky Shop, Paris.
A recent scheme for Intensity is the de Gruchy’s project, which comprises the refurbishment of a well-established department store in St Helier, Jersey. Working on the de Gruchy’s project, Intensity designed and supplied the store’s lighting scheme, which has been well received by the Managing Director of de Gruchy’s.
Paul Donegan of Intensity, said:
“We are extremely pleased to have worked alongside Neville Moore and his team to deliver a spectacular retail lighting environment to the refurbished store. Neville Moore, MD of de Gruchy’s has expressed his pleasure at the lighting we designed.”
“More than ever before, LED technology has allowed retail lighting design to expand its influence on the retail environment. As such, we relish being at the forefront of the lighting sector, bringing new approaches to lighting retail spaces.”