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RETAIL THEATER: “Surreal” is how Liberty managing director Ed Burstell described the experience of being followed around by camera crews for the filming of “Making Liberty,” the working title for a three-part television documentary set to air this fall.
“I think it will come out as a nice balance of the store’s family values and culture, but also being very modern and relevant,” Burstell told WWD. “There’s a real focus on the business of fashion, they will be filming us at all the fashion weeks, seeing the strategy and the buying meetings; it will be a balance of that and the people that go into it.”
This story first appeared in the August 23, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The program will follow the retail team as they gear up for the store’s busiest time of year: the Christmas season. It centers on the charismatic Burstell and his “right-hand woman,” head of marketing and communications Kate Brindley, and features many other members of the Liberty family, as well as designers.
Burstell is no stranger to the small screen — he appeared in “Britain’s Next Big Thing” on BBC2 and has been an expert on “The Apprentice” — but he admitted to still finding parts “nerve-wracking.”
“You want to make sure you’re showing your best side but also be real; be honest about what’s happening in the business,” he explained as a camera crew was passing his office. “We’ve been so lucky that the business has done so well over the past four years but the truth is that sometimes there are frustrating days — and they caught one [on camera] already. There was some bad news about deliveries and, well, let’s just say I had to do my breathing exercises.”
Brindley told how the idea for the production came about after seeing the TV show “Inside Claridge’s” and how production company Rize managed to “celebrate what goes in to making Claridge’s ‘Claridge’s’.” She hopes that the program will translate into a boost in footfall in the store and more online sales. “TV has a real mass outreach with it being as strong regionally as it is in cities like London, so great for us,” she said. “I really hope that ‘Making Liberty’ will bring a new customer to Liberty and show people that perhaps haven’t visited the store in a while that we aren’t just seeping in our heritage, or resting on our [floral-printed] laurels, or just ‘expensive.’ We are a brand that thrives on innovation and we have something for everyone.”
“Making Liberty” will air on Channel 4 in the U.K. this fall. Rize said that following transmission in the U.K., it is expected that the show will be distributed internationally.