OCTOBER 2016 – Rethinking Retail – Evolving Retail Spaces Across the Globe

This September, the Elecosoft team attended the BCSC Event in Manchester, where 2,500 retail professionals met to learn, connect and share ideas. Of the many fantastic and insightful seminars we attended during the event, we were particularly inspired by a talk by Wayne Hemmingway, member of the Design Council Trustee board and all-round design guru. He spoke about his ideas on how we think about retail spaces, and what they mean to us as social beings.

Hemmingway argues that life is not about shopping – it’s about interacting with each other and creating memories. So retail spaces should be about more than shopping too. The new generation is focusing on communities and creating spaces people want to be in, merging big brands with promising newcomers to create interesting new retail spaces.

Hemmingway went on to mention five up-and-coming retail spaces around the world that are leading the way in placemaking. Here is what we discovered:

New uses for space


Hackney town centre has seen a complete overhaul: widened pavements, pedestrian crossings, and removal of guard railings. The result? Streets that are easier to walk down, and experience greater pedestrian traffic. These streets are now easier on the eye too: the 2014 Shopfront Scheme rejuvenated 30 stores on Narrow Road, Clarence Street and Mare street, financed by the London Regeneration fund.

The area has seen a 21% growth in business since 2004. Take Shoreditch, home to London’s greatest number of startups. No stone is being left unturned: Morning Lane houses 12 railway arches, previously unused, however this is now changing.  One is now home to family startup Square Root London, a small batch soda company. Fast forward to 2016, and a designer fashion hub, housing brands such as Nike and Joseph, can now be found beneath the railway. The new generation are finding innovative ways of using space in retail, and it’s working for both household names and up-and-coming brands.



New York is a pioneer of the place making movement: and with good reason. In a concrete jungle that never sleeps, an urban oasis is a much needed area to catch up with friends and to relax. Take the infamous New York High Line: crowds flock every day to the 2.33 km long retreat. Situated in the cities infamous meatpacking district, the disused rail line faced threat of demolition in 1999. Fought for by Friends of the High Line, it now features planting, water features and seating, leading to its new identity as the “New Yorker’s back garden”. And this just so happens to coincide with 3.5 miles of prime shopping space. Create a space that the community can enjoy, and the businesses in the area are sure to flourish.


Rejuvenation and rebranding


Liverpool’s cultural quarter boasts an eclectic mix of galleries, digital agencies, bars and restaurants, juxtaposing the new with the old. Add in the recent development of the Liverpool One shopping centre and it seems to be working: the city centre is now a permeable space, with easy access to other districts and even the water front. 30 individual buildings make up the area, each with its own identity and unique character. A pedestrian “fast lane” is also being trialed, after slow walkers were identified as key annoyance to shoppers. Factor in Chavasse Park, an oasis of green with picnic areas and sheltered seating, and you’ve got a multi-functional space that the community can truly enjoy.  And clearly it’s working: in just 7 years Liverpool has moved from the 15th most visited UK city to the 5th.


Heading further south, Margate provides another excellent example of placemaking. The total rebranding of the UK’s oldest amusement park, Dreamland, by none other than Hemingway himself has seen a massive influx of tourism and new investment in the area. Since the £10 million refurb of Dreamland into a vintage themed park, the local community has embodied a somewhat “hipster” vibe, with old, unused buildings breathing new life as quirky coffee shops and galleries. Hemingway accredits the renewal of what was once a rundown sea side town to the growing local creative community, who are turning space into place by taking on boarded up buildings, molding the history and spirit of the town into new business.  The eclectic mix of established brands and independent businesses are part of the much wider community, one that will only continue to grow in the future.

Independent boutiques and big name brands

Mitte Distict- Berlin

Translating to “middle”, Mitte embodies the heart and soul of Berlin. Home to iconic landmarks, museums, shopping districts and much more, Mitte is a hub for locals and tourists alike. But it hasn’t always been that way. Following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1992, a complete refurbishment was needed to breathe life back into the area, and the result is a now eclectic mix of galleries, outlets, restaurants- the list goes on. Local designers and farmer’s markets are rife, particularly around Alte and Neue Schonhauser Strasse, making Mitte one of the hippest areas in town. Factor in big name brands including Lee and Pepe Jeans, and the result is a colourful mix of independent boutiques and big name brands. And it works!

The new generation are merging the old with the new, and the industrial with the green, and it’s creating interesting retail spaces that are only going to increase in popularity. Here at Elecosoft, we love to work with pioneering retailers and property professionals, and are always on the lookout for new trends in retail space. Our revolutionary systems have helped 8 of the top 10 retailers in the UK organise their property data, so they can focus on moving with the times in this fast-paced world of retail, where shopping is becoming so much more than just an exchange of money and services. The next thing on our list: visit all of these fantastic locations to keep that inspiration on a high.

For more information about our revolutionary IconSystem call 01858 468345, email us at hello@iconuk.net or visit our website http://iconsystem.co.uk