Lush’s Stores are What Count

The retailer creates spaces that double as destinations
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Posted March 20, 2019

As Neiman Marcus makes New York City landfall, proving perhaps that destination stores are what count in many quarters currently, in the U.K. the world’s largest branch of Lush, the purveyor of “bath bombs,” has just opened in Liverpool.

This is a store that’s just shy of 15,000 square feet, covers three floors and is in the heart of the city. Not bad for an outfit that is known for a single item and showing; perhaps that while bath bombs might first seem to be a one-hit wonder, they can be made so various that a store of this magnitude can work.

There are, of course, other elements in the Liverpool flagship with the whole of the first floor being devoted to a spa, where a range of treatments, lotions and potions are on offer. That said, what really matters are the small, brightly colored objects, about the size of a baseball, that dissolve on contact with water while giving off a distinctive scent and color.

The truth is this is an outfit that does not seem to understand the notion of enough when it comes to store numbers. There are Lush branches on every continent and at times it would appear in every major city, all of them emanating that particular scent that you either love or hate.

So why does it succeed where others struggle? For an answer, head to Liverpool or to London’s Oxford Street, where a party feel is evident from the moment shoppers enter the store, and it’s a trick that seems to carry whether the shop is massive or almost kiosk-like. These really are destinations – places where shoppers head to have a good time in-store as much as to buy something.

It’s a way of trading that many could do worse than take a look at. Every halfway decent retail proposition could probably do something of the kind, but few seem to have the imagination to do so.

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.