Retail therapy

A Waitrose food court

Kinnersley Kent Design celebrates its 21st anniversary this year and is bringing the first House of Fraser department store to Abu Dhabi in 2012.

Mick Kent founded Kinnersley Kent Design with Glenn Kinnersley in September 1990.

The client base grew from new concepts and roll-outs for the fashion chains Topshop and Dorothy Perkins and the company today is a creative design consultancy focusing on the retail and leisure market through concepts for interiors, graphics, branding, name generation and corporate identity.

Projects include Bateel, Waitrose, House of Fraser department store, Mercedes Benz and World of Food. It has offices in London and Dubai and Kent is the driving force behind the Middle East division. Paul McElroy became a third partner in 2005.

Kent’s expertise, particularly in food hall, department store and automotive retailing, means clients benefit from an understanding that lies in creating, evolving and repositioning retail and leisure brands to help them perform better.

Kent remains at the helm of the organisation, nurturing client relationships across the Middle East.

You are the co-founder of Kinnersley Kent Design, how did you meet your partner?
I first met Glenn (Kinnersley) at University. We were both studying for our MAs at Central School of Art & Design in London. Glenn’s MA was in Industrial Design, mine in Product Design.

Ironically we both found salvation in retail design. A few years later our paths crossed again. We both worked for the Burton Group creating new design concepts and roll-outs for fashion chains Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

We were both passionate about retail design and decided to set up our own company in 1990 and Kinnersley Kent Design was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

What changes have you seen in the industry since you started out?
Our industry has undergone major changes over the past 20 years. Design companies with the ability to adapt and innovate have survived and thrived in this ever-changing industry.

It is exciting to be a part of the evolution. The most obvious is that the internet changed everything. Before the internet came along, purchasing decisions and the way we shopped, were simple. The price sensitive shopper compared prices based on going from shop to shop or via consumer magazines.

You now no longer need to visit a bricks and mortar store in order to make a purchase.

There is still a big place for bricks and mortar stores in the world. Only difference is that now it’s much more about the shopping experience and levels of service offered rather than the product, because the product can almost always be bought online, more conveniently, and for less money.

That’s where innovation comes in. For House of Fraser for example, it’s all about the shopper experience, service and convenience. In addition to online shopping, their new ‘click and collect’ service allows shoppers to order items from the internet and collect it in-store.

The advantage of course is that the shopper can try the garment on before taking it home, so no postal return hassles if the size is wrong. We see the future as a combination of brick and click, that is, a seamless brand experience across all channels.

It is important for us to remain aligned with organisations that have a shared interest in redefining the retail landscape and provide solutions that positively impact the industry.

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