The Retailer Spring_09.05_FA
NEWS FROM THE BRC Retail Reinvention: Not just thinking outside the box, thinking outside the UK
Aodhán Connolly Director Northern Ireland Retail Consortium
The “Zentrum am Zoo” buildings were completed in 1957, one of the few still-preserved contemporary eyewitnesses to the eventful history of post-war Berlin. The ‘two-piece’ architecture, reminded the people of Berlin of a bare midriff in a bikini, the daring swimwear fashion causing a stir at the time, hence the name “Bikini”. Once a busy hub producing and selling textiles and clothing, when the Berlin Wall was erected, the ensemble of buildings fell into a Sleeping Beauty slumber, from which it was brought back to life in spring 2014 when Bikini Berlin was born. A unique combination of shopping, gastronomy, workspaces, cinema, leisure, recreation and hospitality. The first thing that strikes you is that every detail has been meticulously thought out. This is not a regular managed shopping centre, this is a concept shopping mall, a compilation of carefully curated and coordinated boutiques and gastronomical offers. The mall includes modular pop-up boxes, which can be rented temporarily. This gives well-known brands the opportunity to launch new products and also makes it easier for aspiring young designers to present their creations to the public for the first time. It has also embraced the return to showroom retail as well with brand leaders such as Austrian furniture manufacturer Bene, and concrete specialist Godelmann. It’s obvious from scratching the surface that this destination is different, but to dig a little deeper, I got some answers from Antje Leinemann, General Manager of Bikini Berlin. It was no surprise when Anjte knew exactly what makes this retail destination special. “The Concept Shopping Mall, Bikini Berlin, is as exciting and inventive as the city around it. It inspires its visitors with its creative potential and the trends that are experienced first and foremost. BIKINI BERLIN breathes an international spirit and shapes the pulse of the metropolis. An urban oasis in the heart of the capital. Here, shopping becomes an experience - we love fashion, food and design.” And with bustling crowds day and night, both tourists and locals love Bikini Berlin too. Anjte knows exactly where their focus is. “We appeal to people who are look- ing for something special, young designers from all over the world who not everyone knows yet. People who appreciate cuisine but also fashion and design.” And that’s exactly what you get fashion and food that is anything but run of the mill. And with 70% Retail, 30% gastronomy, it seems they have exactly the right mix. But it is not just the food and the fashion that is a footfall draw. An additional highlight of the Bikinihaus building is the 7000 m², freely accessible, green rooftop terrace, which is based on New York’s High Line Park and offers spectacular views into the neighbouring zoo. Exclusive office spaces can be found on the third to sixth floors of the Bikinihaus, giving a chic place to work.
What does the future of retail look like? Aodhán Connolly got some answers from Antje Leinemann, General Manager of German success story Bikini Berlin. “To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time”. Never has that been truer in the world of retail than today. We have seen more change in the past five years than we have in the previous fifty since Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, said those words. Change permeates every facet of our industry; what people buy, how they buy, how we source, even how we market our products and ideas have changed immeasurably. The question is, with all of this change, including having fewer but better stores, offers and jobs, how can we keep ahead of the curve? What does future success look like? Is it the continued success of traditional retail centres such as the St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre in Dublin which manages to garner strong footfall from both tourist and locals alike? Or the innovative transparent approach of New York brand Everlane, which builds its success on its ethical branding? The Everlane approach is worth a further look to see how they have taken ethical branding and marketing to its limits. Having recently opened its first physical store, fashion retailer Everlane is a brand that has won the approval of consumers through its radical transparency. They are dedicated to letting their customers know exactly how much their clothes cost to produce. They reveal the true costs behind all of their products, from materials and labour to their final transportation. Not everyone’s cup of tea but for the ethical fashion consumer, this brand is a must. With all the travel and immersion in retail, it does take a lot to actually floor me; to make me stop and say WOW! And that is exactly what happened on my recent trip to Berlin. The designers, owners and managers of Bikini Berlin just get it. The heritage-list- ed Bikini Berlin complex includes the Bikinihaus (Bikini Building), the Zoo Palast cinema, and even the small high-rise with the 25hours Hotel.
6 | spring 2019 | the retailer
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