SEAT intu Lakeside
Automobile manufacturer SEAT has taken a bold step into the UK retail market with the opening of its first store concept at intu Lakeside in Essex. Opened at the beginning of September, SEAT believes the store will offer an alternative to the traditional car buying experience and at the same time will tap into the 26 million annual customers visiting one of the UK’s largest shopping centres.
Boasting several innovations, including unaccompanied test drives and guaranteed seven-day car delivery from point of order (subject to finance), the store has been created by Green Room Design to make the most of technology in order to enhance the customer experience. Mike Roberts, Chief Creative Officer at Green Room, spoke to Premier Retail about the elements of the store:
“The store is all about changing perceptions for the customer. It is about creating an experience that gives the customer what they want, removing the hard sell pressure and being open and friendly. We also identified that while the SEAT brand is from Barcelona, most customers were not really aware of that. We therefore set about trying to bring to life Gaudi inspired elements of Barcelona within the store.
“We felt that sunlight was a really important design feature that both creates a warm and inviting environment and at the same time captures the essence of Barcelona. To bring this to life within the retail space we used various light features that also create an element of change throughout the day.
“Thirdly, we wanted to introduce elements of biophillic design. We wanted a space that was inviting so we have features like seating and a large scale olive tree that occupies the centre of the space. The presence of something living and green engages customers and encourages them to spend longer in the store.
Measuring 150m2, the store contains three display cars and eight 22-inch digital info ‘hubs’ where customers can configure and explore financing options, arrange test drives and get a trade-in value. There are also a number of 70-inch ultra HD screens highlighting the brands latest news, offers and features.
In terms of personnel, there are 13 highly-trained SEAT experts with extensive product knowledge. Each member of the team has completed an intensive training course which included an extensive induction at SEAT headquarters in Barcelona. In addition to the indoor store, there is an outdoor Experience Centre housing an additional 16 SEAT models to be explored and test driven. The overall emphasis of the store is to create a relaxed and browser oriented retail environment in which customers can do as much or as little as they like.
Richard Harrison, SEAT UK Director, commented:
“The inspiration for the store design builds upon our dynamic new dealership corporate identity, which is already half way through a plan that will refresh the look and feel of our entire dealer network across the UK.”
In total the project took under a year to complete and feedback so far has been extremely positive following a low key opening.
Interior Precision Ltd
Interior Precision Ltd specialise in all aspects of internal refurbishment and fit-out works, from car showrooms to offices and more. The company has been in operation for 14 years and within this time Interior Precision has worked with various high-profile clients including the University of the Arts London, Mothercare, HR Owen, Arcadia Group & Spire Automotive.
Recent projects delivered by Interior Precision Ltd include Bugatti showroom Berkeley Square, Maserati showroom Manchester, Bentley Hertfordshire Aftersales Centre, Aston Martin showroom Pangbourne and Lamborghini Stockport. Most recently, Interior Precision Ltd was appointed as the main contractor for both the Internal Showroom fit-out and the construction and fit-out of the external ‘Experience Centre’ at SEAT Lakeside.
Colin Stroud, Director of Interior Precision Ltd, said:
“We have a proven track-record with Spire Automotive, but this was a great opportunity to be involved in a new concept with SEAT UK and to be able help develop this exciting project with the design team and client.”
“Our aim is to always provide our clients with a hassle-free journey and to deliver exactly what they set out to achieve within budget, on time and with a very high standard of finish.”