SHH– named‘Interior Design Practice of the Year’ at the FX Awards in November 2014 and ‘Best Large Design Studio’ at the London Design Awards in December 2014 – has completed a radical revamp of an established Russian building products retail chain called Petrovich,which has outlets throughoutSt Petersburg and North West Russia. The first new generation concept store has been completed and is now open for business in St Petersburg – and trading very well.
‘Customer reaction has been fantastic’, commented Petrovich Marketing Director Igor Kolynin. ‘People have been really surprised and impressed by the new design. Sales have increased dramatically and the sales of new category displays of flooring, tiles and plumbing products are up as much as 58% in the first month of trading.’
The Petrovichbusiness has an existing portfolio of different types of site, from large construction trading depots to smaller city-centre sales offices, where orders are placed and fulfilled within 2 hours to any local address via huge-scale distribution centres – and the same applies to any phone or web-based order. A service-driven ethos means that professionals who know exactly what they want are served as quickly as they wish to be, whilst more inexperienced builders can benefit from as much advice and direction as they need.
‘The existing stores were well-liked by customers and had a good reputation for supplying quality products and services, with friendly and informed staff’ commented SHH’s Creative Director Neil Hogan. ‘They were used by professionals in the main, with account-holders purchasing in large quantities and DIY enthusiasts or small builders buying smaller quantities on a take-away basis. There was no positioning, however, that responded either to design-led consumers or design-conscious professional builders in a more upmarket sector, whilst the full range of quality products was not known by those not already familiar with the brand. The challenge was to re-position the brand as a higher-quality offer and talk to the new target sectors via new brand language and interior layouts, without alienating existing customers.’
‘The brief was to create a positioning and a design which encouraged customers to trust Petrovich not only for the purchase of functional building products, but for decorative items too, which was a tall order in our old-fashioned former stores’ added Igor Kolynin.
SHH, commissioned by Igor Kolyninto create the new concept (having previously worked together in 2008 on the highly successful ‘Teaspoon’ concept – a tea and pancake chain, also based in St Petersburg), first developed the retailer’s brand proposition, creating a strong new brand language based on an existing colourway, making it future-facing and dynamic with a new highly graphic treatment using diagonal lines in yellow, orange, red, grey and black.High-level super-graphics and clear layouts were used, along with strong directional signage and a new, modular display system that could be configured for any size of site, creating rooms-within-rooms, and grid systems, with merchandise was completely re-organised via much more refined adjacencies that reflected the logical order of building a house.
‘Each material or tool type now has its own special display unit’ commented Neil Hogan.‘Displays are more open so that customers can touch and feel the product and buy on sight.’
The new concept ensured that customer flow, directional signage and the use of light were all optimised to make the stores as legible as possible for first-time users, who could self-instruct much more easily in the new environment, rather than needing the sales office at all times. Flooring in the new store is in polished concrete with vinyl flooring used for the sales offices, with the new diagonal line brand marque inset into the floor. Product is laid out in numbered aisles (with the diagonal brand treatment used here), with black laminate-covered OSB board addingdynamism to the gondola ends. Lighting is arranged in a simple but highly contemporary grid pattern directly below the exposed ceiling and is also integrated into the top of the merchandising units themselves.
A hands-free shopping strategy was adopted for items such as tiling, flooring and doors, with products represented only by samples. Customers make their selection by putting stickers on a special card and taking it to the till. Upon payment, they can then choose either to have the items delivered to their homes within 2 hours or to go straight to the drive-through warehouse, where the service team can load items directly into customers’ cars; a service that has proved particularly popular with female customers.
‘Working closely with the client, we definitely feel we succeeded in creating a new retail environment for Petrovich which is consumer-friendly, but still, at its heart, a very efficient store for builders’commented Neil Hogan.
‘At Petrovich, we perceive this design to be a huge step forward in our aim to match our service levels with customer perception and expectation’, added Igor Kolynin. ‘We already have a brand new customer sector coming into the store and at our annual conference, the store was awarded ‘Project of the Year’. We are now looking to renovate our entire chain of stores, with two more stores completing this month and the rest by the end of Summer 2015.’