Contemporary look for major retailer

March 16, 2020

Founded 130 years ago, Whitcoulls is a major national retailer with over 50 stores around New Zealand – offering a wide selection of books, stationery and other merchandise.

Whitcoulls wanted to move away from the traditional bookstore look and feel, while continuing to stock and sell their core products. Essentially, they wanted to modernise the lines of their fittings and fixtures and lighten the colour of their shelving in a cost-effective manner. It was our job to make sure the shelving system was strong, versatile and modular with a seamless look and feel.

The modular system we used utilises a mix of metal spine frames, slotted metal posts and panels, with the  look and feel of the refined oak wood finish. This gives a lighter look to the store, with the versatility for store staff to adjust and move fixtures quickly when required. A range of custom components that clip  onto the system has been designed to merchandise a large range of books, toys, papers, stationery and impulse purchases. The detachable metal slat panels eliminated the requirement for using joinery slat walls on every gondola, reducing weight, cost and waste.

A key feature of the modular design was weight. We had to make items easy to assemble and freight to site, while retaining their functionality and integrity. The design solution included lighter fixture systems (easier to handle and move around onsite) which are easy to assemble and would flatpack providing a smaller footprint for shipping.

Our next step towards reducing weight was to go from melamine panels to metal slat panels. Joinery panels require structural framing to support them and this is where the extra weight comes from. With metal, it only takes a single fold on an edge of the panel along the fold. This meant a big weight reduction in components, fewer materials required, and no requirement for structural framing to hold the wall and floor system components together.

The finished in-store product is cost effective, consistent with the Whitcoulls brand, easy to assemble and to move around. Enticing the customer instore is bright lighting with promotional tables positioned at the entrance of the store to catch the eye and trigger impulse purchases. A customer can come into store and quickly find what they are looking for with clever use of category signage. The centre counter feels more comfortable, encouraging customer-staff service focused interactions and quick transactions.  

“Malls want Whitcoulls not only as an iconic New Zealand brand, but to add a point of difference – we offer something for everyone. Feedback from customers is ‘wow’ the new Sylvia Park store looks amazing. To get this positive comment from customers is a strong endorsement of the look, feel and finish for the new store”. David, Regional Sales Manager, Whitcoulls.

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