A First Look at Waitrose Cookery School
Owain Roberts in Brand, Retail, Retail

Waitrose are about to become the first UK supermarket to open and operate a cookery school – and it’s a great example of a brand who are pushing into ever more original multi-channel retailing as a way of expressing their personality.

Continuing to build their loyal customer base, Waitrose are creating a real, hands on experience for those who empathise with the brand’s passion for food – a distinct difference from their competition whose focus tends to be far more product-centric.

Empowering customers with knowledge in a communal, engaging environment is a trend that still has huge relevance – creating real-world connections between brands and customers.  Gensler’s London office led the concept development and design of all public-facing areas of the 4,600sq ft flagship location in London, together with the school’s identity and environmental graphics.

As the trend of pop-up retail begins to be the norm and rather unsurprising, seeing retailers engage with their followers in a more meaningful way is an exciting move on the high street. Online is the place for the mundane weekly shop, the store is the real place to get close to fresh and specialty produce and the Cookery School is the place to spend your time and connect with the brand in a more meaningful way.

I’m sure we’ll see this approach becoming ever more prominent – so what could that mean for banks, or car showrooms, or indeed any other form of retail? Watch this space!

Based in London, the new school is all about learning skills, exploring flavors and being inspired by some of the UK's top chefs.

The 4,600 sq ft cookery school will comprise a theatre, teaching area, dining area, bar and kitchen.

The school offers a range of cookery classes based on different cuisine style, like Indian or Italian, as well as skills-based courses like baking and knife skills.

The space will also be used to train Waitrose employees.

Owain Roberts is a Retail Design Director in Gensler’s London office. With a clear understanding that consumers see design as a single idea, not a series of separate elements, he encourages a seamless relationship between graphic design and environmental design to create complete retail experiences. His broad range of experience in environmental design covers both retail and commercial interiors and also branding exercises for high profile projects. Contact him at owain_roberts@gensler.com.


Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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