How to dress your store this holiday season

With Christmas just around the corner, retailers are gearing up for what will probably be their busiest few days of the year. At P2, we always find ourselves busy in October, November and December, helping shops design festive window and retail displays. And let us give you one piece of advice: as people take to the high street to find gifts for the people in their lives, you want to stand out. When footfall is at its highest, you do not want to fade into the background. Here are our four top tips to help your store dress to impress over the holidays:

Focus on lighting
Light is key to making displays work in winter, when afternoons and evenings get darker earlier. As Christmas approaches, you want to stick to traditional themes. That means soft glows lighting up your displays, reminding shoppers of nativity scenes and nights in front of a roaring fire. And it means miniature lights: stick with white or yellow for high-end displays that focus on traditional themes, or go multi-coloured if you’re looking for something fun.

Colour matters – and it’s easy to get right
When it comes to design, colour is a big deal. And because the iconography of Christmas is so well established, that’s doubly true this time of year. For the same reason, though, it’s easy to get your colour palette right at this time of year. Christmas has an established identity – stick with seasonal colours: think holly, ivy, Santa, and snow. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more modern, you can take a colour palette from Christmas-themed movies… Frozen or Home Alone, anyone?

Use props to tell a story
Everyone knows that Christmas decorations are a major part of the season. That means trees and baubles, fairy lights, and Santa hats. But you can also use props to create a narrative experience through your store. That could be snowy footprints leading to Santa’s Grotto, a “Christmas Party” themed mannequin display, replete with Christmas jumpers and mistletoe, or something led by product. Whatever you decide to do, the key is this: make sure there’s a pay-off for the customer. Christmas 2019 will see the trend towards in-store experience increase, not die down.

Use signage to create Holiday messages
Guess what – now is the perfect time to use signage to your advantage. Christmas is probably the only time of year when you can guarantee that most of the people coming into your shop aren’t just looking for a product – they’re looking for inspiration. That means they are particularly receptive to targeted messages. You can use signs (suitably festive in appearance, of course) to literally tell people what to buy… and they’ll probably be thankful for it. So feel free to label that perfume “the scent she’s been waiting for” or describe this whisky as “What every dad wishes Christmas tasted like” – you’re doing them (and you) a favour.

All retailers that take themselves seriously will be making an effort over the next four weeks to look their best. The tips above should help you to keep up, but if you really want to stand out, it pays to get in an expert. At P2, we work tirelessly each Christmas to guarantee that our clients have the best-looking festive stores possible. If you’d like to join them, please get in touch with us on 01455 288 922.

Oxfam’s new superstore is a clear example of retail’s continued evolution

This month, we saw the debut of something completely new on the retail landscape: the world’s first “charity superstore”. Oxfam’s new premises, situated on the outskirts of Oxford, is a bold new attempt to reinvigorate the charity retail sector, turning outdated perceptions of charity stores on their head. Will this particular evolution succeed? Only time will tell.

But a quick look around the store demonstrates what Oxfam sees as the future of retail: the space is about 12 times the size of Oxfam’s typical charity shops, and puts products on a pedestal. A long wall of display units draws the eye to Oxfam’s own branded merchandise ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ – an eco-friendly range that includes Fairtrade chocolate and coffee, Christmas cards, and bamboo coffee cups and lunchboxes.

Oxfam’s trading director, Andrew Horton, knows exactly what the charity is aiming for with its new property: “Our aim is for this to be an enjoyable and fun ‘destination’ shopping experience. Customers will be able to shop ethically, but we want this new store to have the wow factor. We want people to linger, to chat over coffee. We have a 10-year lease on this unit and if it is successful, we will roll it out in other locations.”

This idea – the idea of the retail “experience” – has become dominant on the high street over the past few years. That it is now being embraced by charity stores – typically, locations that eschew trends and sell themselves on principle and price – is a sign that the retail landscape has shifted dramatically. At P2, we have long catered to this “experience first” world: how you choose to lay out your store, how you curate displays, and how you enliven the customer experience.

But evolution doesn’t have an end point. Retail is evolving worldwide, as ecommerce platforms, social media, ethical concerns, and current fashions all intermingle to drive change. At P2, we keep up with that change – and we can help you to keep up too. If you’re planning a new product display, and need bespoke built units and guidance on how to use them to their greatest effect, contact P2 on 01455 288 922, or drop us a message via our contact form.

Department stores see first sales rise of the year

It’s good news for UK highstreets this month, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that monthly retail sales have reversed a year-to-date trend and risen in July. Predictions were for a further decline of 0.2% – in fact, sales were 0.2% better than the same month last year.

The ONS was quick to highlight that growth overall was “only modest” – but department stores saw better-than average increases of 1.6%, largely down to clothing sales. Overall, ecommerce helped to boost statistics, as more Britons turned to their phones, tablets, and computers to finalise purchases.

For the quarter as a whole, retail sales growth came in 0.5% higher than the comparable quarter of 2018. However, when you look at online sales in isolation, that figure becomes 6.9%.

Rhian Murphy, the head of retail sales at the ONS, said: “Retail sales saw only modest growth in the last three months. Although still declining across the quarter, there was an increase in sales for department stores in July for the first time this year. Strong online sales growth on the month was driven by promotions.”

Gabriella Dickens, an assistant economist at Capital Economics, stresses that these figures are good news, despite their modesty. She told the BBC: “The rise in retail sales in July was encouraging and supports our view that the economy has picked up in [the third quarter]. Of course, the retail sector only makes up about 30% of total household spending. But spending growth off the High Street appears to have remained fairly steady. So, July’s figures leave us more confident that the economy avoided another contraction in Q3”.

With retail spending showing a slight increase, it’s important to ensure that products are displayed in the best way possible. For help with your display furniture and layout, give P2 a call on 01455 288 922.

Five retail display trends shaping retail spaces in the digital age

As digitisation continues to revolutionise retail, brick-and-mortar stores are evolving. The strong players in offline retail will continue to make their presence felt, even as more and more people buy their goods online. But to have a really good store today means rethinking the purpose behind it and amending your display space accordingly – here are five of the trends driving change, and how they can help you make sense of offline retail in an increasingly online world.

1 – It’s all about the sensory experience

You’ve probably heard about the importance of the “experience” but here is what it means: in a world where people can buy the same products online as they can offline, usually more easily and sometimes more cheaply, brick-and-mortar stores have to offer something different. That “something different” is an immersive experience that lets shoppers experience products with all their five senses – your displays have to make the most of the tactile and sensual elements of the products, which are still a vital element.

2 – Enable browsing, not just buying

The experience of shopping should be fun – and that means treating the transaction as a secondary element. You should be thinking about the way your customers will travel through your store, and using display spaces to create a uniquely curated experience. You can do this by creating different set-ups from your competitors, emphasising better product presentation, and offering the highest quality customer care. If you make your shop a fun place to be, your customers will be loyal to it.

3 – Be flexible in how you design retail spaces

If you want customers to keep coming back, you can’t leave the same displays up for months at a time. You should be using your space in novel ways, regularly shaking things up, and creating themed product presentations around curated collections. In some industries, that’s already the standard – but it will soon apply to all types of retail. Think about ways you can repurpose your display furniture and spaces, and don’t be afraid to try new things from time to time.

4 – Even offline should go online

As digitisation creeps into the physical world, your store will have to follow suit. That means connecting the digital space with the analogue space – using connectivity (does your store have free WiFi?), showcasing your displays on social media (time to get that Instagram account going), enabling omnichannel retail (have you thought about fitting out your displays with a tablet?) and more. Your store shouldn’t be somewhere people go and find themselves cut off from the internet – it should offer something in addition to, or over and above, the online experience.

5 – Put your people in the spotlight, too

The focus on sensory experiences, fun, novelty, and added value all have one thing in common: they make the shopping experience more human. That means that your staff must move into the foreground, offering assistance navigating the beautiful spaces you’ve created. Every person you employ needs to be an expert at navigating the displays and presentations on offer, and also needs to be a customer-focussed person that has the willingness – and ability – to help. Without that human touch, even the best retail space will feel hollow.

If you need more help thinking through your next retail display, get in touch with us through our contact page. With years of experience, and a great track record, we can help you make your brick and mortar store truly competitive in the digital age.

A view inside P2 with Chris Pitcher

One of P2’s directors, Chris Pitcher, took some time out of his busy schedule to give readers a sense of what it’s like inside P2. His answers shed a light on what makes P2 different from its competitors, and how clients are likely to get the best out of its service.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your work and background?

A: In my former life, I was a bench hand joiner – I focussed on some of the same skills that our workshop staff use today. A big part of my role is supervising what goes on in the workshop, so having a background in the fundamental elements of the trade is a great benefit. I do my best to provide guidance, and find fixes to what appear to be intractable problems. I am also responsible for a wide range of operational, organisation, and management work – preparing quotes for clients, site briefing with the joiners, project managing major accounts, site surveying, planning the machine shop schedule on our digital platform, keeping on top of stock like board material and paints, and a host of related tasks.

Q: Can you tell us what a typical “day in the office” looks like?

A: It usually starts with a caffeine fix! A lot of my day-to-day work is standard business fare: checking emails and working on quotes, discussions with the production manager, etc. I also have a general responsibility to make sure the workshop is running smoothly, and of course, there are always plenty of meetings to attend with staff, suppliers, and clients!

Q: Can you tell us what sets P2 apart from its competitors?

A: I think the main thing is that we really bend over backwards for our clients. We go above and beyond whenever it’s needed, and work to deliver a service that our competitors would struggle to match. The result of that dedication is a more bespoke service. When we do a job for you, it’s always tailored to exactly what you want. I feel confident saying that, compared to other services on the market, we go the extra mile for our customer.

Q: If you could give new clients one piece of advice before working with you, what would it be?

A: Give us as much information as possible before we start the project. Think things through in as much detail as possible so we can anticipate changes, and avoid prolonging the job. That might include things like knowing what material finishes you want, having a quick approvals process in place to ok our drawings, and giving us an idea of the lead times required. That’s definitely a recipe for getting what you want as quickly and easily as possible.

Chris also says that the company has big plans for the future. Despite the looming presence of Brexit, and long-term trends around the slow down of the high street, the company has managed to grow significantly over the past few years. P2 is banking that its focus on quality, strong work ethic, and ability to tailor projects to clients’ requirements, can deliver more of that growth. In the coming months and years, the company will leverage those strengths to expand the business and the premises.

Put quality first by working with P2

At P2, we put quality front and centre. How do we ensure we deliver this to our customers time after time? The simple answer is accreditation.

Accreditation offers a definitive guarantee that the people you employ offer a consistently high-quality service that meets the standards that are set by professional bodies. As a result, accreditation is essential at P2.

We pride ourselves on the consistent quality we deliver to clients. But we don’t expect people to take our word for it. That’s why we have earned and maintain a long list of industry accreditations – to offer you the peace of mind that comes from working with someone you can rely on.

Our accreditations:

  • CHAS: The authority for health & safety compliance, letting you know that our processes involve no unnecessary risk.
  • ISO 9001: The international standard for quality management, this accreditation demonstrates that we consistently provide products and services meeting customer expectations and regulatory requirements.
  • ISO 14001: This accreditation sets an international standard for effective environmental management systems, providing a framework for organisations to follow.
  • SafeContractor: SafeContractor offers a specially tailored health & safety accreditation that showcases alignment with SSIP requirements.
  • FSC: This certification guarantees all the timber used in our products is sustainably sourced from well-managed forests.
  • PEFC: PEFC certification is an additional demonstration of our commitment to sustainable timber, responsibly sourced.

As you can see from the above, there are a number of elements in this industry where proper accreditation is necessary to ensure that clients don’t get let down on safety, quality, or ethicality. Using a business that meets the standards of the accreditation bodies above guarantees you are working with legitimate contractors. And because the world continues to evolve, so does accreditation. At P2, we’re continuing to work towards a number of new accreditations in the near future that will offer our clients yet more assurance.

If you would like to work with a bespoke retail display furniture supplier who not only has photos and glowing testimonials to show you, but also official documentation that their work consistently meets high international standards, feel free to drop us a line via the details on our contact page.

P2 celebrates its fourth successful manufacturing year!

We started this year bigger and better than ever before, with more than 10,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space, a development team with 2D and 3D capabilities, a project management team, and site teams that cover the whole of the UK, Ireland, and Europe.

P2 Retail Displays has been manufacturing for four years! It’s hard to believe that it was so long ago that directors Adam Phillips & Chris Pitcher (P2’s two ‘P’s) set out with two joiners to get the company up and running. Growth came slowly at first, but soon sped up. We added two more joiners, then another four, along with new equipment like a CNC & Edgebander in our first year alone.

By the end of our second year, we’d added two CAD developers and hired Adam Cooper as head of projects (a hire that, at the risk of embarrassing him, is still paying dividends today), and we’d outgrown our original set up, doubling the space to make way for the spray shop (now, an integral part of our business). It was also in our second year of manufacturing that we achieved the ISO 9001 & 14001, Chas, and safe contractor certifications.

Year three was another year of expansion, and we added yet more joiners along with something totally new: our first 3D developer. Later in that year, we also added a new head of development, and invested in greater automation in the machine shop. We also bought a new state of the art spindle moulder, drum sander and panel lifter.

In year four, we added a second 3D developer, a production manager and a site foreman and invested in a wide array of new equipment, such as a thickness planer, surface planer, rip saw, and overhead routers.

We’ve faced challenges in recent years: general elections, Brexit, and the so-called “death of the high street” – but it’s a testament to our 30 members of staff that these headwinds have spurred us on to ever greater service levels, letting us continue to grow and develop into a truly market-leading company.

P2’s evolution over the last four years has been incredible, and we now work with not only some of the world’s largest retail brands, but also its most iconic hotels, restaurants, and even museums! What comes next?

According to P2’s Head of Projects, Adam Cooper, the company is not one to “stand still” and yet more expansion is waiting around the corner. With a future he describes as “exciting” hovering on the horizon, our targets are set on continuing this incredible manufacturing growth story into a fifth year and beyond!

A trip inside the P2 spray shop

P2’s spray shop could be just the thing your piece of retail display furniture needs to help it stand out from the crowd. Our two, highly skilled, sprayers can provide a number of top-quality finishes that are sure to include something which is right for you.

We offer two different paint types: PU (Polyurethane) and an AC (Acid Curing) substitute. However, we no longer offer Acid Curing paint itself. The reason for this is quite simple: recent research has shown that Acid Curing paint continues to emit formaldehyde long after application – making it a health risk.

Acid Curing paint is a standard offering in the industry, and it produces a good result – but there was no question, when we learnt about the dangers it posed, that we had to find something better for both the environment and the shoppers that come into contact with our craftsmanship every day. Luckily, we were able to find an alternative that easily matches the quality you would expect from traditional Acid Curing paints.

Our AC Substitute paint is a lacquer that reacts with oxygen in the air. It can provide a variety of finishes from dull to high quality gloss that’s suitable for all types of wood and can be used in a variety of different spaces.
However, if you need something harder wearing, and even more versatile, then our PU paint is undoubtedly your best bet. Although more expensive (and laborious!), PU paint can be polished extensively to a mirror-like finish.

In addition to providing our own stunning paint jobs, our spray shop can match any existing stain by either rubbing or spraying on and using a clear lacquer to protect it. The end result is, whether you want something new and original, or a continuation of what has gone before, at P2, we can deliver! To learn more about our spray shop, or make an enquiry, please contact us on 01455 288 922.

Three top trends for retail display in 2019

Three top trends for retail display in 2019

Each new year brings its own trends to the world of consumerism, and retail display furniture is no different. It’s really important to stay on top of today’s rapidly evolving retail industry – sales might be soaring right now, but do you know what “Generation Z” cares about? And are you conscious of the forces looking to disrupt your business?

With that in mind, we decided to offer you some expert guidance on our own specialist subject: retail displays. So, without further ado, here are three trends that will continue to shape the industry over the next twelve months – make the most of them, and it could pay dividends.

Displays equal data, and knowledge equals power

In today’s high-tech, omnichannel, world, we all know that knowledge equals power. Where does knowledge come from? Increasingly, the answer is better customer data. And where does data come from? In part, at least, from in-store behaviour. And there are few better places to gauge how customers are interacting with your store and products than a retail display. This could be the information that makes or breaks you: according to a Pew Research Center Report, more than three quarters of purchase decisions are made after looking at or trying a product in the real world.

Bob Gatta, the CEO of Data Display Systems, says: “There’s a growing importance for brands and retailers to track in-store display engagement as a crucial part of their overall marketing strategy. Capturing engagement provides an understanding of where, when, how, and which customers are interacting with your products.” The first step in delivering that is ensuring that you have a well-thought out layout to your store, so you know where traffic is being driven – something that P2 has a great deal of experience with. You can check out this blog for more info.

Experiential continues to drive consumption

Long gone are the days when buying goods was a simple transaction to take ownership of a product. Nowadays, experience rules the retail sector. In the wider world of shopping, this might mean more than just operational expertise… it’s time to push the “in-store experience”. And, with a plethora of apps, websites, and ecommerce platforms now operating in tandem with the world of brick-and-mortar, consistency is key.

If you’re selling well-known brands or products, it is not enough to simply display them nicely on a quality unit. Now, you have to take the brand’s online presence into account, the touchpoints created through social media, and more. Reflecting these factors in a beautifully designed piece of retail display furniture is a fine art, and it is one that will become indispensable to shops of all sizes this year. A great example is the bespoke oak cabinets we made for Fortnum and Mason in conjunction with Portview Fitout in 2016. these cabinets captured the same combination of traditional luxury and modernisation that typifies the brand’s online presence – that’s why they’re still a standout feature for London shoppers today.

Sustainability determines purchases for more consumers than ever before

Environmentalism is more powerful and ubiquitous than ever before. Millennials and Generation Z really care about the world – well, they should… they’re the ones who are set to inherit it. And that means that brands (and retail outlets) that embrace sustainability are in a better position to reap the rewards of repeat custom than their competitors. This isn’t a minor point: A report from eMarketer in January found that 68% of inline respondents “deemed product sustainability an important factor in making a purchase”.

Carlos Castelan, managing director of the Navio Group, says: “Customers want to know how products are being sourced, what ingredients they contain, and what the supply chain looks like.” That’s every bit as true of the furniture that products sit on in the store as it is the products themselves. That’s why it pays to work with a firm like P2, which holds certification from both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

P2 is an expert at creating beautiful bespoke retail display furniture and installations. We’ve brought our problem-solving skills to brands like Estee Lauder, Clinique, Chanel, LG and Tag Heuer. Will you be next? Get in touch on 01455 288 922 to find out how we can help you today.

2019 is looking like an exciting year for P2

2018 was a great year for P2. We won new contracts, completed some fantastic work, and dealt with a long list of satisfied customers. However, we’re even more excited for 2019, which is already shaping up to be an interesting year. There are a few things coming up that we’re keen to share with you.

First on the list is the expansion of the development team. This kicks off at the end of January, when we’ll be pleased to welcome a new head of development as part of the team. An introduction is just around the corner, so keep an eye out. Suffice to say, we were deeply impressed by this person, who brings a good wealth of experience and additional skills to the business, and look forward to watching them put their stamp on the development team.

Secondly, we plan to continue our focus on bringing fresh blood into the business and industry. P2’s apprenticeship scheme was a great success last year, and we’re keen to continue supporting the evolution of skilled labourers into the industry by sponsoring them in-house.

Third, and finally for now, we’re excited about the acquisition of more new technology. We’ll be investing in new machines this year, with a new semi-automatic spindle moulder being added to the catalogue this month, alongside the lifting arm installed just prior to Christmas. Like all industries, it is important for us to keep up to date with the modern ways of working and machines that can help us be more efficient and continue to improve our quality of finished jobs.

So, with those notifications out of the way, all that remains is for us to wish you all a happy – and exciting! – new year!