LONDON — British concept store The Shop at Bluebird has relocated its flagship store from the King’s Road in Chelsea to Covent Garden in the center of town to engage with a larger and more diverse audience.
“Two years ago, the idea of moving away from our Chelsea home seemed completely crazy,” said Claire Miles, head of the shop, which launched in 2005 and is part of high-street retailer the Jigsaw Group. “As soon as we saw Carriage Hall in Covent Garden, we knew we had found the building to showcase the very best of what we had been offering a King’s Road. Covent Garden as a whole is undergoing a huge revitalization. Floral Street in particular is becoming a destination for retail, while Petersham Nurseries and the opening of Floral Court are sure to bring crowds into the area.”
Located at Carriage Hall on 29 Floral Street, down the road from Arket, Kent & Curwen and Paul Smith, the 15,000-square-foot store spans three floors and is housed in a 19th-century, Grade II-listed building built around a central atrium with a glass ceiling. The store itself was designed by Dalziel & Pow with a theme titled “Playground of Wonders.”
Each floor is decorated with lots of foliage, plants and six-foot trees. There will be a restaurant and roof terrace that will launch this summer. There will also be a Blink Brow Bar, a Fornasetti space and the Avery Perfume Gallery. William Ling from the Fashion Illustration Gallery will curate a wall of artwork on the first floor.
The ground floor will host a number of contemporary women’s wear labels including Ganni, Isa Arfen, Mira Mikati and Rixo while the first floor will house designer brands such as Chloé, Isabel Marant, Maison Margiela, Peter Pilotto, Temperley London and Victoria Beckham.
Fornasetti and Fashion Illustration Gallery each have dedicated spaces on the first floor while Avery Perfumes has a dedicated space on the ground floor. New brands that will join the store include Evi Grintela, Innika Choo, Kalita, Araks, The Volon, Veja, Grown Alchemist and Pared Eyewear. Store exclusives include Aeyde’s next collaboration collection, which launches at the end of May while brands such as Dusan, Paola Vilas Jewelry and Bejia London are exclusive to The Shop at Bluebird in the U.K.
“Visually, it’s completely different,” Miles said of the new store. “But in terms of our brand it’s what we have always done best — supporting up-and-coming brands has been part of The Shop at Bluebird’s DNA from the beginning. We were the first to pick up many local London brands before they cut through globally. This is something we are keen to continue in our new home. We’ll be dedicating a large space in the entrance of the new store for revolving pop-ups and exclusive launches — the first of which will be Aeyde shoes collaboration with Lucy Williams — launching in store on May 29.”
Miles said London is Bluebird’s strongest market, and with the new shop, they anticipate an increase in both international and domestic shoppers. The company operates five stores in the U.K.
“We are available internationally via our partner Farfetch,” Miles said. “But our main focus in the past decade has been the U.K. We toyed with our own e-commerce in 2016 before deciding to dedicate our attention to creating an exceptional in-store retail experience. Over the past 12 years, our success has come from offering our customer something not offered elsewhere, whether that be an overseas brand, not previously available in the U.K. or collaborating with partners such as the Fashion Illustration Gallery, which has a dedicated gallery space at Carriage Hall to constantly keep our customer engaged.”
Miles said the store’s local customer was incredibly loyal. “She’s been shopping with us for many years,” she said. “Around three years ago we started to increase the volume of pop-ups we introduced into the store. Two of the most successful to date — ‘Culture and Craftsmanship’ and ‘Postcards from Latin America’ —centered on the concept of bringing brands [from the Middle East and Latin America, respectively] not stocked in U.K. into market. Our customers responded exceptionally well to these unique, limited-time-only shopping opportunities and since then we have made this every revolving product offering a core part of our concept store business objectives.”
While she declined to disclose sales projections, she noted that the King’s Road store had been performing well, with sales up in the double digits year-on-year. “From these sales figures we knew that we had a very special brand mix and a unique positioning as a concept store, and that relocating our flagship to an area of high footfall would enable our brand to flourish further,” Miles said. “Ready-to-wear has long been our best-selling category, with dresses in particular driving a large percentage of sales. Ready-to-wear will stay as our largest category in Carriage Hall, although we have increased our accessories and beauty offerings.”