Image source: Harvey Nichols, Birmingham
British department store Harvey Nichols has reopened its Birmingham store after extensive refurbishment with a design that trades on cutting-edge digital technologies and design cues borrowed from the hospitality sector.
Located in upscale shopping mall The Mailbox, the flagship, which was designed by London-based agency Virgile + Partners, spans 45,000 sq ft. The entrance features a 39ft-long 'immersive tunnel' of LED screens showing seasonal imagery, such as sunny meadows and autumn leaves.
Another key digital element is its '360-degree' changing-room mirrors, which enable consumers to record their look from all angles as a video, replay it and share via social media for advice.
Drawing on the hospitality sector to ensure the digital elements transcend gimmick as part of a more holistic redesign, the store offers concierge services such as valet parking and a cloakroom. There is also a restaurant headed by local Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell. Shadi Halliwell, group marketing and creative director at Harvey Nichols, said: "Customers have told us they love going into hotels, getting rid of everything as they walk in and having it all taken care of."
There are no concession stores, till points (iPad-equipped staff take payments anywhere in the store, excluding the beauty department) or defined walkways for consumers to follow, refocusing the journey on a more serendipitous style of exploration. Carlos Virgile, director of Virgile + Partners, comments: "We thought it unnecessary to have such rigid walkways and ways of guiding people through the store. We have given them more freedom to explore. People can move in any direction and will always find something interesting at the end of that journey."
The opening coincides with the launch of Harvey Nichols' loyalty app. It encourages consumers to collect points for money spent in-store, which can be swapped for personalised rewards such as experiences (a champagne dinner at London's Oxo Tower, for instance) or gift vouchers.
The new design concept will soon be rolled out to other Harvey Nichols stores – including the seven-storey Knightsbridge flagship in London in spring 2016.