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LFRA On European Exchange

Travellers on this year’s LFRA Overseas Study Tour got a glimpse into the future observing trends in retail across European countries Sweden, Denmark and the UK. Insights were gained into the latest new and refurbished retail offers as participants investigated leading retail design trends in sustainability and development innovations. The group were also presented cutting edge insights from industry experts, pioneers and government insiders.

For one week, Phil Schoutrop, Principal and Director of Buchan, led a group of 40 LFRA members across Älmhult, Copenhagen and London. Attendees came from the full spectrum of industries in Large Format Retail including senior executive members from some of the largest retail brands, property development, investment firms, commercial real estate, planning, architecture, legal, insurance and other professional services.

“Walking around and visiting the many retail sites offered insights our members could take back home and integrate into their own businesses,” said Ms Kelly.

In Älmhult, the global headquarters and birthplace of IKEA, activities included a Museum tour, learning about the brand’s history and journey, and a world-first exclusive tour of IKEA’s Global Head Office, Prototype Shop and Test Lab.

In Copenhagen, LFRA explored and observed an array of Large Format Retail including lighting brand FLOS Scandinavia, home improvement and hardware chains Stark City 24-7 and Bauhaus Hardware, and Large Format Retail in Gentofte.

Tour members also visited and had lunch at furniture showroom Paustian House, which was designed by Sydney Opera House’s prize-winning architect Jørn Utzon, contemporary furniture and design products store Hay House and globally renowned porcelain retailer Royal Copenhagen.

And finally, in London, LFRA examined various retail formats and trends at Borough Markets and Boxpark in Shoreditch, a pop-up food, lifestyle and fashion precinct where tenants are housed in shipping containers.

This was followed by a walking tour of retail centres of Mayfair, St James and Soho, Lakeside and Thurrock Large Format Retail sites, Blue Water Shopping Centre, and O2 ICON Factory Outlet. Tour members were fortunate to hear from management of the world’s most sustainable IKEA store in Greenwich.

In addition, there were guided tours and presentations at shopping precincts Westgate Oxford, The Lexicon-Bracknell, Westfield White City and Coal Drops Yard, once the marshalling yards of the Industrial Revolution now transformed into a cultural and retail park. Tour members also had an in-store discussion with the management team at IKEA’s Tottenham Court Road Planning Studio, a smaller and relatively new store format offering personalised services for kitchen and bedroom design.

As well as guided site tours, this year’s Overseas Study Tour included exclusive meetings with industry experts Jacqueline Windsor, a PwC Partner specialising in retail and consumer, and Neil Wynn-Jones, Senior International Trade Adviser at the UK Department for International Trade.

Terence Jape, Centre Manager, Jape Group Australia, who also attended last year’s Study Tour in Japan, stated, “As a retailer, this trip has shown me a retailer needs to inspire their customers by showing them what they can do with their products.

“In a market where there is so much choice, customers need help deciding what to buy and part of this equation is showing them how my product helps them solve their problem, create the look they want or meets their values.

“As a developer and centre manager, this trip has shown me the key role for a centre is to drive foot traffic by becoming an integral part of the local community. No longer can a centre simply depend on its anchor tenants to bring foot traffic. We need to give consumers a reason to visit the centre.”

Philippa Kelly added, “It was great to see so many LFRA Retail and Associate members involved in this year’s Overseas Study Tour.

“We are already looking forward to next year but be warned, bring your walking shoes!” Ms Kelly said.

In the 2019 one-week tour LFRA CEO, Philippa Kelly, walked an impressive total of 131,340 steps or the equivalent of 87.5km. This is an average of over 18,760 steps or 12.5km per day.

The LFRA Overseas Study tour is a long-standing tradition and this year has arguably been the most informative and successful tour.

Unfortunately, we won’t find out the location of next year’s tour for some time but nonetheless it will offer a myriad of things to learn and adopt, sites to see, development of lifelong professional networks and friendships.


This article is a part of a 10-segment series covering the 2019 LFRA Overseas Study Tour.

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Large Format Retail