LONDON — On Friday, Harvey Nichols will reopen its refurbished store in Birmingham’s city center, with more of a boutique-y feel and a load of digital technology features.
The 45,000-square-foot store is located in The Mailbox, an upscale shopping mall on Wharfside Street, and will stock more than 200 brands across men’s, women’s, children’s, beauty, food and wine. It will offer styling and personal shopping services as well as beauty treatments. It also features a restaurant and bar operated by the Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell.
“It changed the rules, in many ways, of what luxury is about,” said Carlos Virgile, the director of Virgile and Partners, the firm that redesigned the space. “That was our intention. It doesn’t follow the normal rules of a luxury retail environment. There are no walkways, there’s a huge variety of fixtures. If you walk around, you see the different things — the sort of juxtaposition of materials, we have concrete next to marble then rough architectural materials.”
The store will also offer digital technology and services with the aim of enhancing the customer experience. Highlights include a 360-degree digital mirror; a 39-foot long LED tunnel at the store’s entrance, and wireless stations to make purchases. The concierge service will hold onto customers’ bags and coats while they shop. One fitting room offers a mirror that can take a photograph of a person’s look that can then be shared digitally. Another fitting room has been designed so that stylists can place garments into a room without the shopper having to step out and grab them.
“Technology is key, but the one thing that actually surmounts everything else is the transition from department store to large boutique,” said group commercial director Daniela Rinaldi. “I think the other thing that’s also very relevant and very different is that principle of putting the customer at the center of everything we do. In effect what we’re trying to do is take the grunge out of shopping; we’ve got our own dedicated car park downstairs with the concierge service. Once you’ve gone through the fabulous women’s wear, men’s wear, accessory and beauty offer, you can get someone to take all your stuff downstairs into the car and you can just come in here and you can relax, and have Montrachet by the glass in the wine store.”
Birmingham is a key market for the retailer, which will be an anchor store in the newly refurbished Mailbox. “Harvey Nichols first came to Mailbox in 2001, with a store half this size, located in the front of the Mailbox building,” said Richard Vickery, general manager of the Harvey Nichols Birmingham unit. “Birmingham has undergone a tremendous transformation in the last 14 years and today it is one of the three most popular places to shop in England, with around 1,000 shops within a 20-minute walk of the city center.”
The Birmingham location is part of Harvey Nichols’ existing portfolio of eight U.K. stores and units in cities including Dublin; Baku; Riyadh; Saudi Arabia; Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey; Kuwait, Dubai, and Hong Kong.