The Conran Shop offers a unique and distinctive blend of design classics and future collectibles, whilst its innovative selection has inspired and excited visitors for generations. Here, RLI sits down with Peter Jenkins, CEO of the company to discuss how it is undergoing a comprehensive transformation plan that will stand the business in good stead for years to come.
Founded by the late Sir Terence Conran in 1973, his early inspiration for his retail spaces came from the continental hypermarkets of the 1950s, and each of their stores offer a unique, design-led experience. The Conran Shop has a heritage that spans almost 50 years and in that time it has established itself as a brand synonymous with all areas of design.
Today they operate two flagship stores across Chelsea and Marylebone in London, along with a concession in Selfridges, a flagship in Paris, France, four franchise stores across Japan and their most recent additions to the store portfolio, two flagships in South Korea which are situated in Dongtan and Gangnam respectively.
Due to all the market alterations and changes in consumer trends in the past couple of years, the company has reviewed its entire business model, and has developed a comprehensive transformation plan that will see them invest in a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This new ERP will become an essential component as they seek to better understand their customer and improve their journey with them, both digitally and across their physical store environments.
“The pandemic has truly created some never-before-seen circumstances, and leading a business through this period has been a real challenge,” explains Peter Jenkins, CEO of The Conran Shop. “As this was an unprecedented period, no rule book existed so as a leadership team we looked to stay ahead of the situation, stay as close as possible to our teams and continue to lead by the company’s core values.”
The store portfolio of the company expanded to a new country in 2019 with the opening of their award-winning South Korea flagship site. Following this, the entire business was thrilled to open its most recent and highly anticipated second location in the country in Dongtan, which is a rapidly growing area situated 40 kilometres south of Seoul.
The new shop is situated on the ground floor of the ultramodern eight-storey Lotte Department Store and it was designed and realised by the in-house Creative Team, resulting in a condensed version of the Gangnam flagship: a steel frame encased in obscured three-metre vertical glass fins. The fixtures within the store are in white powder-coated steel using simple materials throughout, while raw concrete columns are clad with four floor-to-ceiling video screens featuring content by their in-house Graphics Team.
With a collection of stores that spans two continents, the brand continues to look for additional sites and they are currently entering into several new partnerships that will assist them in the growth of the brand, the creation of a new audience and increased brand awareness.
“Working with the right partners will provide fresh insight and ideas which will help us to learn and improve as a brand. We will continue to focus on our customer, delivering the best possible service and evolving our range and overall offer,” explains Jenkins.
When discussing the future of retail and how they engage with their customers, Jenkins explains that they are focused on putting the customer and their experience at the centre of everything they do.
“Whilst we have seen significant improvements over time, we still have so much more to do in this area. Another thing which helps us to build relationships with our customers is events; we host brand events in our flagship stores in London and Paris that give great experiences and help inspire our guests to curate their homes and lifestyles.”
Doing their part in the global sustainability drive, The Conran Shop has partnered with Positive Luxury who are helping them to build their full Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy as the company works towards being carbon neutral by 2030. They have in place now a clear map of how to reach this objective, and have passionate colleagues to make it happen.
“As we look to the future, Sir Terence Conran’s founding vision of championing plain, simple, and useful design objects from established designers and emerging talents across the globe, continues to inspire us to create unbeatable shopping and cultural experiences,”