Ann Summers takes pleasure in being one of the U.K.’s leading retailers of lingerie and adult accessories. The brand operates stores throughout the region as well as invites customers to host house parties, whereby girlfriends gather to preview the latest bras, camis and sex toys. After going through a brand repositioning, which puts “fearlessly unleashing sexual confidence” at the heart of its mission, the brand reached out to Fitch’s London office for help in transforming its store environments into a “playground for the curious.”
“It allows shoppers to make discoveries in a playful yet approachable environment,” says Michelle Hardy, Fitch design director, London.
To promote exploration, products are presented in an open environment, rather than secluded in corners or behind curtains, with the most risqué of products put front and center, called out by a 6-foot tall black velvet bunny sculpture housed underneath an oversized silk lamp shade.
A new fixture system and visual merchandising focus helped to reduce clutter and create a theater around the products. “Unlike the pre-existing concept, the new store design provides specific places for merchandise to go, meaning no product is encroached by another,” Hardy explains.
For example, a multi-tiered center “stage” and shiny colored mannequins put the spotlight on the latest collections and seasonal launches. Along the walls, apparel is arranged by style and color. In a nod to the association between food and sex, bell jars and cake stands transform into playful merchandising props for accessories, while a “sexessories” wall provides additional space for toys and smaller products.
Double-height ceilings and spotlights add to the drama, while the store’s black, white and pink color palette strikes a balance between provocative and fun. At the back of the store, a keyhole-shaped doorway further encourages discovery, leading customers to themed changing rooms.
“The new design creates more intrigue,” Hardy says, “encouraging customers to explore new products, and in turn, their own sexuality.”
Retailer: Ann Summer, London - Fiona Davis, marketing director; Becki Rowe, general manager of marketing
Design; Fitch, London - Michelle Hardy, design director; Eleanor Holton, senior designer; Elise Rowland, senior designer; Debbie Dickens, senior designer; Shaadee Alam, designer; Charlotte Harrison, designer
General Contractor, Audio/Visual, Ceilings: Heartbeat, Redditch, England
Fixtures: Visplay, London
Flooring: Domus Tiles Ltd., West Molesey, Surrey; Grestec Tiles Ltd., Headcorn, England
Furniture: Twentytwentyone, London; Architonic, Zurich, Switzerland
Lighting: Niche Modern, Beacon, N.Y.; Architonic, Zurich, Switzerland
Mannequins/Forms: La Rosa Mannequins, Milan
Wallcoverings and Materials: Heywood Metal Finishers, Huddersfield, England; Robert Horne Group Limited, London; Lelievre, London; Chase Erwin, London; Chelsea Artisans, London; Dulux /ICI Paints, Slough, U.K.
Giant Rabbit Sculpture: Prop Studios, West Sussex, U.K.
Photography: Jon Meade, London