This time last year, we were booking flights to Dublin and looking forward to an entertaining evening at the 2019 Fit Out Awards ceremony because the first of two stores we designed for one of Ireland’s leading independent jewellers had been shortlisted for ‘Retail Project of the Year’.
This year it’s a bit different. Rocks Jewellers are in the spotlight again - shortlisted for ‘Excellence in Collaboration’ at the 2020 Fit Out Awards - but this time for their redesigned flagship store in Dublin’s prestigious Grafton Street.
Whilst it’s not going to be quite the same sense of occasion - as we, the client and the contractor all celebrate independently from our homes at the ‘virtual’ awards event - the pandemic can’t take away from this project’s recognition.
Of course, clients want results not just awards. And as a member of the Design Business Association we are committed to a retail design process that aims to deliver breakthrough results for our clients.
However, this year, measuring success is proving challenging. Rocks Jewellers opened the doors to their redesigned flagship store the week before Ireland went into lockdown. And when they reopened in July, Dublin city was devoid of all those lucrative tourists and the usual weekend footfall from the regions.
“But we still had a really positive response from our regular customers and local Dubliners”, says MD Robert Rock. “If we’d known the pandemic was coming maybe we wouldn’t have committed to the investment but I’m really glad we did. We’re in a very competitive market place with over a dozen jewellers in close proximity to our Grafton Street flagship, Weir & Sons and Boodles. So having a prestigious store presence and customer experience is essential. We simply had to evolve to remain competitive.”
Despite the pandemic, Robert Rock has good reason to be cautiously optimistic for the future. His jewellery and watch stores were trading fantastically well before the second lockdown, with September 40% up on last year and as Ireland went into its second lockdown in October, sales were already beating the previous year.
Robert says that “the jewellery and watch industry seem to be benefitting from this pandemic. Despite the lower footfall in stores, we are seeing a much higher spend per customer. With travel and holiday plans curbed there’s obviously more disposable income out there for those people in secure jobs.”
So whilst we’d like to claim responsibility for Rocks Jewellers current trading success, we do have to accept the impact that this year’s unprecedented economic forces are having. But what was certainly clear before the pandemic is that Rocks’ customers were already responding well to their first refurbished store in Stillorgan Village shopping centre, with both footfall and sales up.
Robert Rock agrees. “With Innovare Design’s help our new stores have changed customer perceptions of our brand. We’ve reasserted our brand authority over the store spaces and significantly improved the overall customer experience. The new curated product display approach feels more premium for customers and helps them browse our ranges. There’s now a clear emphasis on our bespoke customisation service, which is very popular, and with more comfortable and private consultation zones for customers, we’ve increased dwell time in store which is translating into higher sales.”
The importance of collaboration
We asked Robert Rock, about this latest recognition for ‘Excellence in Collaboration’:
“It’s a leap of faith at the start of your first major store development project – a journey of discovery. You hope you’ve found the best partners and you put your trust in them. It’s an emotional journey as a business owner. You worry if you are doing the right thing; you worry about how to limit your risk. But with the right team at your elbow, who understand your business vision, it feels more like a shared responsibility. Trust and confidence build, and the expertise of the team combines to deliver your aspirations.”
Robert concludes, “Both these projects have been about so much more than redesigning our stores. They’ve been a real step-change for the business. Nobody knows precisely when we will return to something like ‘normal’ after the vaccines roll out, but we do know that we’re in a strong position to build on our retail success to-date.”
You can read more about the retail design projects we’ve completed for Rocks Jewellers here. With special thanks also to Johnston Shopfitters, who were the delivery partner for our branded interior design work for Rocks Jewellers.