Double Retail : In profile
Established in Bristol in 2009, Double Retail is a retail design agency that has developed from humble beginnings into a business working on a global stage with some of the world’s best brands. Double Retail was founded by Matt Tipping with a set of core principles that remain in place today.
To find out more about the business and some of its most recent work, Premier Retail sat down with Founder Director Matt Tipping, Client Services Director Polly Grinnell, Business Development Lead Tom Parker and Design Lead Alex Forsyth.
Hi guys, thank you for taking the time to speak to Premier Retail. Please tell us a little bit about Double Retail. What is it that you specialise in?
PG – “We’re a retail design agency and we very much specialise in the retail sector. That was a conscious choice we made when the business was formed in 2009. In terms of the brands and clients that we work with, unlike other retail agencies, there are a few things we focus on.
One is that a lot of our business is conducted with international clients, either as they come to the UK scene or for us to carry out design work for their global retail stores. We have also chosen to specialise in working with ‘lifestyle’ brands and clients. It started off primarily being fashion and footwear before we started working with action sports and outdoor sportswear businesses. A lot of our work comes from referrals, so generally when people have seen what we’ve done with particular brands, word spreads and we get more business in the lifestyle area. We are beginning to work with clients in other areas of what we consider lifestyle such as luggage, skincare and electronics but as a general rule we’ve always said we want to work with brands that we feel an affiliation with and that we believe in. We like to work with teams who work in full partnership with us.”
MT – “Speaking as the founder of the business, one of the primary reasons to start Double in the first place was this idea of relationship building. I formed the business off the back of 20 years of experience with other retail focused businesses and found they were generally not valuing long term relationships. That didn’t really sit well with me and was one of the reasons that I started Double with a different principle. We are relationship driven and the longevity of those relationships is really important.”
You recently worked with Casio on their flagship Carnaby Street G-Shock store. How did you get involved in that project?
TP – “We began conversations with Casio about a year ago when they planned to close both of their retail offerings in London in favour of a new flagship on Carnaby Street. They approached us regarding designing the concept but also needed a partner that could manage the entire project end to end. Their internal team is quite large but they don’t have a retail department as such so really they needed a partner that could not only handle the design but also the engineering, development, build and installation.”
Could you tell us a bit more about the design?
AF – “There are a number of standout features in the store together with a huge amount of finer details throughout. The first you’ll notice when you enter is an exploded G-Shock watch hanging from the ceiling. We often find that with a complete store design a feature piece is something customers really pick up on – the kind of thing people stop to take a picture of and put on social media. In addition to this there are all sorts of areas of engagement.
By the door there is a ‘tough test’ where the customer can catapult products into the air and let them fall back down to demonstrate their strength. Throughout we’ve displayed products in jewellery-like glass cabinets which give a high-end, premium feel. In the back of the space the watch range has a premium version called Mr-G. We segregated an area at the back of the store to celebrate this range. This area is a metal-clad environment with a raised, up-lit glass floor and LED lighting that bathes the brushed steel surface finish with a glow that focuses attention on the high-end product.”
MT – “As a design principle, the way that the store was approached involved looking at the attention to detail Casio and particularly the G-Shock brand, put into their products. We wanted to design this in a way where the fixtures, fittings and environment were almost in itself a piece of product design. Every detail was looked at, right down to how all the locks function and the engraving on the draw fronts.”
You also worked on a similarly significant flagship project for streetwear retailer, Jimmy Jazz. How did that come about?
AF – “We were invited to go to New York and see the Jimmy Jazz site as it was, and were shown around the original location. It’s a really amazing space in the centre of Harlem and they’re very proud of the location as they own the building themselves. As a brand they have somewhere in the region of 200 locations across the east coast of America.
As Jimmy Jazz have been expanding their brand I think they realised that actually they’d reached a point where they needed to bring in some specialists and start looking at how the stores could perform better and how they could look to roll that out in the future.
When we got back to Bristol we put together a pack that outlined what we’d seen and where we thought they could improve. That in turn became our design brief and through a series of meetings and trips to New York we created a concept that addressed seven to eight key points where we felt the store design could be strengthened.”
Is there anything particularly challenging about working outside of the UK?
AF – “I think the initial thing that jumps out is that anything you do in America has to go through an architect. Over here a brand might come to us, we can engage directly and work on the project with them. In the case of Jimmy Jazz we had to be in regular contact with the architect. Secondly, I suppose it’s obvious, but distance is also a hurdle. You have to make sure the visits you take are worthwhile and you’re grabbing as much information as possible.”
PG – “In terms of working globally, another thing we’re strong on from a construction standpoint, is material specification. We work with a lot of brands and clients who, for example, want to construct the same store in Paris as they did in New York. Something that is readily available in one country might not be in another. We have to be mindful of this when building in the US particularly.”
One of your long-term relationships is with Canada Goose; how has this developed over time?
PG – “We’ve been working with Canada Goose for almost five years now and like many of our clients they were a brand who had built a fantastic product and were really taking off in terms of international marketing. They didn’t have an internal team however, who could manage their retail design and build. We work on all of their physical spaces across Europe and handle everything from showrooms to shop-in-shops in high-end retailers such as Selfridges. Their growth is now progressing to include independent retail with their first UK standalone store planned for Regent Street this autumn. They’ve got some really exciting plans for the future and through the relationship we’ve built, we’ll be a part of them.”
And finally, what do you pride yourselves in as a company?
MT – “As a company we pride ourselves on our honesty and our integrity in the way we approach our projects. We’re not a company that plays hidden games and that’s the way the company has been built internally. We are quite different from a lot of companies and we’ve worked over the past few years to remove the inherent hierarchy you normally get in design businesses. We are self-directed and everyone takes full responsibility at any level. That allows us to be client focused and build very good relationships with each other, our suppliers and with our clients.
As the owner and founder I would say I am most proud of that fact that we’ve achieved our original vision to build a business that builds long term relationships.”
Oracle Interiors Limited
Oracle Interiors Limited is a specialist retail and hospitality fit-out contractor. The company has been in operation since 2002, and this year in addition to celebrating its 15th birthday, Oracle Interiors is celebrating the completion of some amazing flagship boutiques and retail stores!
Oracle Interiors has an enviable international client list, handling a diverse range of fit-out projects. High profile projects include the Oliver Peoples flagship on Sloane Street for Luxottica, fashion stores for Joules Clothing and ZARA, footwear stores for Footlocker and Timberland, and cosmetics stores for KIKO. Oracle Interiors Limited also undertakes coffee-shop and restaurant projects with Black Sheep Coffee and POD Food.
Most recently, Oracle Interiors was appointed as the principal contractor on the Casio G Shock project on Carnaby Street. Working on this scheme, the company was responsible for all aspects of construction, including the electrical & mechanical services and team management to meet the needs of the project.
Alan Beale, Managing Director of Oracle Interiors, said:
“We have enjoyed working with the Double Retail team on this challenging project in one of London’s most iconic fashion destinations.
“Carnaby Street is a fashionable location and every project here is closely watched. This retail store showcases the brand and its exceptional product range in an exciting and engaging way.”
“Our key strengths are in our quality of finishes and our ability to work in demanding locations like Carnaby Street. We understand the operational constraints and focus upon practical ways of implementing complex fit-out and construction projects.”