Brick-and-mortar stores are slowly picking up after the pandemic as shoppers return to the high street.
And retailers are giving them a reason to put down their phone and shop in the physical world with a series of new store openings that provide experiences as well as an opportunity to shop.
Earlier this month Lego reopened its store in London’s Leicester Square after four months of extensive refurbishment, creating the “world’s largest Lego store”.
On the day of the opening, huge queues formed outside the giant toy store with shoppers eager to experience its interactive features, including a personalization studio and storytelling zone.
But Lego is not alone. Retail Gazette rounds up some of the most exciting new stores that are eagerly awaited.
Gymshark, Regent Street
Gymshark will open its first physical store on London’s Regent Street in any given week, and the retailer is currently recruiting staff for the store.
The store is one of the most anticipated in retail, and Gymshark founder Ben Francis has set high expectations.
“It’s going to be amazing, it’s going to be an experience, and we want to bring as much of that Gymshark vibe and community to this venue,” he said last month.
The 18,000-square-foot former Regent Street store will be more than just a retail store. It is a space where Francis aims to bring the community closer to him than ever before.
The flagship will sell Gymshark products, but Francis has stressed that the “vast majority” of the store will be used for experiences like workout spaces and special events.
Gymshark has only tested a number of physical pop-up stores around the world, most recently its barber shop download in London.
JD Sports, Trafford Center
JD Sports revealed this month that it will open it is the largest store to date at the Trafford Center in Manchester.
The 42,412-square-foot flagship store will be a downtown relocation for the retailer, occupying the lower level of the former Topshop store.
No opening date has been set, but JD’s group head of acquisitions, James Air, promises a “unique flagship.”
“This will be the largest JD store of more than 3,400 stores worldwide. The new store will feature a custom version of our latest cutting-edge concept and will bring more of the best brands to our loyal customer base in the Northwest,” he said.
Flannels & Sports Direct, Metrocentre
Shoppers at the Gateshead Metrocentre have two new flagships to look forward to as Frasers Group plans a milestone Flannels and Sports Direct shops in the center.
The Metrocentre has agreed to a 15-year lease on the 130,000-square-foot store with the retail group, which will open a 70,000-square-foot Flannels on the ground floor and a 60,000-square-foot Sports Direct on the first floor.
The site was previously Debenhams but is currently occupied by Next Home & Beauty.
Both stores will open next year and are expected to reflect the more exclusive offer from Frasers Group.
The group’s new CEO, Michael Murray, spearheaded the business elevation strategy, which aims to create fit-for-purpose shopping environments not only in today’s retail market, but also for years to come.
The next thing is to plan to open five new Gap shop-in-shops at its flagship stores, including one in Lakeside in August, another in Birmingham in mid-September and a third in Manchester in late 2022.
Then he signed a joint venture to manage Gap’s UK and Irish operations in September last year, before launching its first Gap-branded store-in-store at its Oxford Street flagship store in March.
The concession marked the return of the American brand to the UK’s high street. after closing all its stores here last year.
Icelandic outerwear retailer 66ºNorth will open its first UK flagship store on London’s Regent Street in mid-September, marking its first store outside of Iceland and Denmark.
The 3,500-square-foot flagship will not only showcase 66°North’s products, but give visiting shoppers an insight into the history and legacy of the Icelandic brand that began making clothing for Icelandic sailors before becoming a highly desired outerwear brand.
66ºNorth CEO Helgi Oskarsson said: “We are delighted with the opening of our new flagship in London. London is an incredible city: beyond its culture and heritage, it is home to some of the best and most influential fashion stores in the world.
“We opened our first store outside of Iceland seven years ago in Copenhagen. Since then we have been waiting for the right time to open a store in London. Now we are ready.”
Ikea, Oxford street
One of the most anticipated store openings of the coming year is the opening of the new Ikea store on Oxford Street.
Billboards have recently been put up for the flagship, located in the former Topshop store in Oxford Circus.
Ingka Investments, the investment arm of Ikea owner Ingka Group, paid a whopping £378 million for the site that will bring shelving, mirrors and meatballs to London’s famous shopping street.
The 239,000-square-foot store will house around 5,000 Ikea products, with the option of taking home soft furnishings or ordering larger pieces of furniture for home delivery.
There will also be an on-site restaurant where shoppers can get their dumpling fix.