Archive for the ‘Latest News’ Category

Sign & Digital UK back for 2023 with a new look

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Sign & Digital UK (SDUK), the leading trade exhibition for the visual communications sector, today announced the launch of its 2023 show (21-23 March 2023, Hall 2, NEC, Birmingham), with bold new branding that reflects the innovative and creative nature of the sector.

A ‘must attend’ event for all those involved in the production of signage and displays, SDUK provides essential advice and learning for business owners to maximise revenues from the opportunities new and existing market sectors provide.

Jenny Matthew, event director for SDUK said:  “With over 30 years of heritage as a national trade show, SDUK evolves each year to offer the best value to our exhibitors and showcase the very latest advances in technologies and applications for our visitors. After recent challenging years, the time was right to evolve the branding and introduce a new fresh and modern look for SDUK along with some new show plans to meet the business needs of the industry.”

“We’ve invested heavily in market research and created an SDUK Working Group to make sure we have our finger on the industry’s pulse. Feedback from 2022 has been phenomenal but we’re not standing still – our visitors want to see a broader range of exhibitors and more learning opportunities, so we’ve developed more reasons to exhibit by introducing an innovative new exhibiting format that lowers costs; cutting-edge lead capture technology and new show and marketing packages to deliver increased return on investment.”

“SDUK Explains will be back for 2023 focusing on the biggest challenges facing the sector. We’re working with our SDUK Working Group to identify the challenges keeping them awake at night, and creating a programme of expert advice, case studies, and additional solution sessions from our exhibitors.”

“Visitors also asked for better networking opportunities and we’re working hard on some innovative and fun new ways to do this to ensure SDUK remains an unrivalled meeting place for the signage, display, and print industry. There are so many business opportunities for exhibitors and visitors alike. Watch this space for all the updates!”

To enquire about exhibiting please get in touch with the show team on 01342 33200 or email

Vuori opens the doors to its first UK store in London’s Covent Garden

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Vuori, one of the fastest growing activewear brands in the US, recently valued at $4bn, opens its doors to its first international store in London’s Covent Garden, this September.

Founded by Joe Kudla in 2015 in California, the first UK Vuori store at 25 Long Acre, Covent Garden in London, showcases an extensive collection of the refined men’s and women’s activewear collections, which marry performance and style for every day, not just for the gym.

With a clean, modern design, complemented by earthy elements such as birchwood and lots of natural light, the approximately 1,000 square-foot Vuori store brings to life the laidback Californian lifestyle aesthetic and feeling of the brand, in physical form.

Joining the 24 existing US stores, the London store brings the Vuori community together in a space, which is much more than just a place to shop. Each store acts as an inspiring hub for like-minded UK active and wellness-focused consumers to come together.

“Covent Garden is the perfect location for Vuori in London for our first international store – a thriving destination for DTC brands, with a daily community of UK and international consumers. We couldn’t be more excited to build the brand in the UK and beyond from here, as part of the Vuori omni-channel retail experience. As with all of our stores across the US, we look forward to bringing the local community together in different ways to celebrate and integrate fitness, health and wellness in the London conversation,” said Joe Kudla, Founder & CEO.

Launched first with a strategic focus on menswear, an area Joe considered an afterthought by many other leading brands in the marketplace, Vuori takes inspiration from the active coastal Californian lifestyle; an integration of fitness, surf, yoga and life. Women’s was introduced in 2018, as a continuation of the brand’s phenomenal success and in response to overwhelming demand.

Believing we are happier on a healthier planet, Vuori is conscious of its impact and committed to utilising sustainable fabrics, such as recycled and organic materials, as well as reducing the use of plastics across its shipping and supply chain. Vuori also works with Climate Neutral, offsetting the brand’s carbon footprint through funding projects that help combat global warming. Passionate about its people, Vuori fosters a culture where its team’s personal health, happiness and growth can thrive. The brand’s commitment to investing in happiness is a mantra not just performed but lived.

The London store opening ignites the beginning of its European expansion, and follows the brand’s recently acquired $400 Million investment and $4 Billion valuation with SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

Deichmann steps into The Potteries Centre

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Deichmann is to open the doors to its latest store in Stoke-on-Trent’s shopping and leisure destination, The Potteries Centre, marking the first in a series of new openings at the centre this year.

Taking over the former Topman unit on the middle mall, Deichmann will bolster the centre’s already strong line-up of high-street footwear brands. Shoes lovers of all ages will find a range of premium brand footwear on offer at affordable prices.

Commenting on the new arrival, Amy Whittaker, general manager at The Potteries Centre, explained: “I’m delighted to be able to announce that Deichmann is the latest big-name brand to make The Potteries Centre its home. In light of the cost of living crisis, its offering of quality, affordable footwear will especially resonate with our visitors today. With the price of almost everything on the rise, we’re eager to make sure that visitors to the centre are still able to get the very best products for a reasonable price under our roof.

“Our team has been extremely busy over the last six months talking to prospective tenants, including a number of national retailers, with the aim of bringing even more popular high-street names to the city centre and supporting the local economy by providing exciting new jobs to local residents. So we’re thrilled that Deichmann, a long-established and reputable footwear brand, has chosen the centre as the destination for its latest UK store.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the Deichmann team put their best foot forward when its doors open later this year, and can’t wait to announce some more exciting new additions in the near future.”

Nicola Newman, senior asset manager at APAM, added: “Deichmann represents an exciting new addition to The Potteries Centre, and really does mark the start of a promising few months as we look to welcome a number of household name brands in the near future.

“Since emerging from the pandemic, there has been a real appetite for retail and leisure activities across the country – but we understand shoppers want more today. They’re looking for experiences; a place with everything under one roof, where they can meet with family and friends, and it’s our ambition to continue to make the centre a hub for the community.

“By striving to bring in the very best that retail, leisure and dining has to offer, we’re confident that The Potteries Centre will remain a must-visit location in Stoke-on-Trent for years to come. Watch this space.”

For more information on The Potteries Centre, visit

Superdrug and Savers pledge to provide 25,000 UK jobs for 16-23-year-olds by 2030

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

A.S. Watson Group today announces a wide-ranging set of commitments and actions to help build a more equitable and inclusive society pledging to offer 200,000 job opportunities for young people globally, and of which 25,000 jobs will be provided across the UK in Superdrug and Savers by 2030, equipping them with essential skills to prepare them for a job in the retail sector.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the global labour market, with global youth employment dropping during the pandemic. Many companies scaled back hiring during this time due to the economic downturn, making it difficult for young people to secure employment.

In a bid to combat the downturn in employment, AS Watson (Superdrug and Savers) has developed a wide-ranging set of commitments and actions to support young people’s career development and help build a more equitable and inclusive society. The pledge includes:

  • Offering 200,000 job opportunities for Young People globally by 2030, equipping young people with essential skills to prepare them for a job in the retail sector
  • Offering 25,000 job opportunities (out of the 200,000 global pledge) for 16-23-year-olds across the UK by 2030 and equipping young people with essential skills to prepare them for a job in the retail sector
  • Investing 5 million global training and coaching hours to upskill the younger generation for a future in O+O (Offline plus Online) by 2030 from training sessions to on-the-job coaching

Amy Davies, People Director at Superdrug and Savers,says, “We understand healthy business is only possible with a healthy society and believe that decisive action is needed to build a society that nurtures talent, embraces diversity, and improves livelihoods. Our pledge will create a better, stronger business; ready for the huge societal changes we are experiencing today.”

Joanne Mackie, Group People Director (Europe) of A.S. Watson Group, adds, “Young people are an important source of talent and creativity; by developing their skills, we can make our business stronger and fitter for the future. We are not only offering job opportunities, we’re also providing training and coaching to give young people the skills they need to work in the new world of O+O retail. We plan to provide 5 million training hours for our global workforce to embrace the future. We look forward to 200,000 talented young people joining us between now and 2030 to help fuel the sustainable growth engine for A.S. Watson.”

Employment Advice and Support

The pledge follows the work already achieved by Superdrug and Savers on their Apprenticeship Schemes which have been running for over 15 years. The schemes take school leavers from an apprenticeship level 2 (GSCE equivalent) to level 6 (degree equivalent) and Superdrug has been recognised as the top Apprenticeship Employer in Retail. Since its launch in 2007, over 4,500 people have achieved qualification and since 2017, 30% of apprenticeship graduates have stayed within the Superdrug and Saver businesses.

Following the pandemic, Superdrug and Savers have worked together to add to their apprenticeship scheme and offer a new Life skills Programme which includes lessons and help in financial awareness, budgeting, health and wellbeing and preparing for interviews. The Life Skills Programme has been introduced to support those effected by the pandemic, allowing them to hone skills that they may have not learnt or lost during the long lockdown periods. The business also offers functional math’s skills, up to a GCSE equivalent in some government cold spot areas to help to reduce barriers around applying for apprenticeships.

Kayleigh Arnold, who began as an apprentice and is now a Superdrug Assistant Store Manager, says, “The Apprenticeship Programme has been transformational and eye-opening for me, helping me understand modern roles in retail. I’m proud to have been given so many valuable opportunities at Superdrug. Having retail as my first job has turned out to be an extremely rewarding experience.”

Klarna launches Virtual Shopping in Ireland, bringing the in-store experience to online shoppers

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

  • Virtual Shopping from Klarna connects online shoppers directly with experts in physical stores, through live video and messaging, to provide a highly personalized experience that helps consumers shop online with confidence while driving footfall to the high street.
  • By placing human interaction at the center of the online shopping journey, Virtual Shopping empowers retailers to create immersive experiences that are proven to increase customer engagement, reduce returns and drive loyalty.
  • Klarna now introduces Virtual Shopping as an offering in Ireland to its 800+ retailers.

Klarna, one of the fastest-growing consumer ecosystems in the world, has announced the launch of its Virtual Shopping offering in Ireland, bringing the best of in-store to the online experience.

Virtual Shopping by Klarna enables Irish consumers to buy online with confidence by connecting them directly with in-store experts through live chats and video calls to receive product advice and inspiration. For Irish retailers, Virtual Shopping empowers in-store teams to bring their expertise beyond the walls of physical stores to shoppers online. In-store teams can share photos and videos of items and demo products live directly from the store floor, from home or even from emerging dark store concepts. This in turn drives engagement and loyalty while increasing footfall to high street stores and reducing return rates.

While online shopping has risen to new heights over the past years, in-store shopping remains the dominant channel in Ireland, with e-commerce transactions accounting only for 6.1% of Irish retail sales in May 2022. Unlike shopping in-store, the online experience today does not allow consumers to see a product up close, touch or try on items, making it hard to tell if products are true to size, fit or colour. Klarna’s data1 shows that Irish consumers today are looking for the same level of assistance when shopping online, with over three-quarters (85%) of shoppers believing that retailers need to invest in new technology, while more than a third of those think that offering more personalised services (34%) and product recommendations (41%) is a priority for retailers.

Earlier this year, Klarna launched its Virtual Shopping tools across 18 markets2. Already live with over 200 brands globally, Klarna is now making the service available to all its retail partners in Ireland, serving as the ultimate online shopping companion to consumers and strengthening Klarna’s position as a global growth partner to its retailers.

Consumers can shop online without ever stepping foot in-store, but still receive expert guidance from in-store teams to help consumers in their purchasing decisions. Through live video and messaging, consumers can view photos and videos of items up close and watch live product demos directly from the store floor – demonstrating everything from how a piece of clothing fits off the rack to the color of a cosmetic product or the size of a piece of furniture.

David Sandström, Chief Marketing Officer at Klarna: “At Klarna, we want to provide the world’s best. shopping experience – whether that is online or in-store. In the past, online shopping has been missing a key element: human interaction. With Virtual Shopping, we replicate the brick-and-mortar experience of receiving personalized advice from an in-store expert and bring it to the online realm. This will empower our partnered retailers around the world to bring their online stores to life and build customer relationships that last.”

How does Virtual Shopping work?

  • For shoppers: Shoppers connect with an in-store expert when they click the Virtual Shopping icon on integrated stores from the retailer’s website. Once connected, they can chat, receive photos and videos, follow product recommendations, and even have a two-way video chat, recreating the experience they would receive in-store.
  • For retailers: Retailers integrated with Klarna can easily add Virtual Shopping to their online stores to deliver a true omnichannel experience. Once enabled, they can gain insights into shopper interactions and sales, enabling them to improve overall performance. To connect with online shoppers, in-store experts can now use the new, merchant facing Klarna Store App for iOS and Android. Once connected, they can begin engaging with consumers by text, chat and video, making it easy to provide personalized recommendations, schedule in-store appointments, and stay in touch.

1 Online survey conducted in cooperation with research agency Nepa across 13 countries (the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. In total, 1,095 Irish consumers participated during Q2 2022 (March-June). The sample sizes are nationally representative, naturally including both Klarna users and non-Klarna users, and have been selected by research agency Nepa.

2 The US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, France, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Sweden.

Flannels and Sports Direct to open North East flagships at Metrocentre

August 17th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

 Retailers Flannels and Sports Direct are to open new flagship stores for the North East in Metrocentre, Gateshead after exchanging contracts with the Metrocentre Partnership who were advised by Sovereign Centros.

Parent company Retail Limited has taken the former Debenhams store in the centre’s Red Mall for the two brands.

The Metrocentre Partnership has agreed a 15-year lease on the 130,000 sq ft store with the retail group, which intends to open a 70,000 sq ft Flannels on the ground floor and a 60,000 sq ft Sports Direct on the first floor. Both stores will open next year. The negotiations for the Metrocentre Partnership were led by its asset manager, Sovereign Centros.

Flannels currently occupies a 5,000 sq ft unit on the Upper Red Mall and Sports Direct occupies a retail warehouse elsewhere in Gateshead, which will close when the retailer moves to the Metrocentre.

The former Debenhams store is currently occupied by Next Home & Beauty, which will consolidate into Next’s existing store in the Green Mall.

Graeme Jones, director at Sovereign Centros, said: “These lettings will create a new destination point for the centre’s Red Mall. The store sits on one of the main entrances to the centre and therefore important from a visual presentation perspective. The transaction completes a major element of our business plan leasing up surplus former department store space.”

Mr Jones added “Retailer interest in the Centre is strong. We are not only attracting new premium brands, but existing retailers are upsizing into new flagship stores. Both JD and H&M upsized earlier this year and are trading really well.”

Sixes Social Cricket launches new flagship venue in Westfield London

August 16th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

The destination for social cricket opens its fifth UK venue as national expansion continues – with the fifth millionth ball to be bowled during opening week

Sixes Social Cricket, the world’s first immersive cricketing experience, is launching a brand-new flagship venue in Westfield London this August, following £2 million investment – marking the business’ fifth venue launch in since its inception in 2020, with no signs of stopping.

With over 9,000sqft of revolutionised entertainment space, London will be Sixes’ largest venue to date and follows the successful launch of four UK venues in Fulham, Fitzrovia, Manchester and Birmingham – all of which opened between 2020-2021 despite the pandemic.

Joining Westfield London’s roster of 450 stores and entertainment outlets, Sixes, launched Monday 15 August will create 35 jobs in the West London leisure and hospitality industry.

With capacity for 250 people, the new social cricket venue comprises of five large batting nets complete with the brand’s revolutionary technology, an outdoor terrace and a brand-new look and feel.

Sixes London is to become the business’ flagship venue and the launch marks a change in the brand’s visual identity, with changes to the décor and interiors, colours to logo and typeface, the new look emphasises Sixes’ commitment to rejuvenating cricket as a modern and vibrant sport, inclusive for all.

The core Sixes offering remains the same, social cricket venues which allows visitors to eat, drink, and bat in state-of-the-art batting nets available to hire by the hour to test their cricket skills with friends and family.

What’s more, Sixes, is planning an extensive five year growth strategy with a further 30 venues in the pipeline to open in the U.K and overseas, with a Sixes venue expected to arrive in the United States later this year.

Sixes has bowled approximately 2.5 million balls a year to players throughout the country and the social cricket brand anticipates it will deliver its 5 millionth ball during the opening week of London – a huge milestone for the business which was co-founded by Mac & Wild’s, Calum Mackinnon and Andy Waugh in 2020.

And to celebrate, one lucky batter will be bowled Sixes 5th millionth golden ball – and will also win a VIP experience at either one of English cricket’s most iconic grounds, Lords or the Kia Oval.

Sixes London will also be offering free batting during opening two weeks from Monday 15  – Friday 26 August, allowing those who hadn’t considered cricket before, to explore the quintessential English sport in a social environment with no pressure to perform.

Skill levels can all be adjusted to everyone’s ability, meaning seasoned players can compete on a level playing field with novices.

Sixes brings together filthy burgers and high quality-cocktails, plus the essence of English cricket to create something truly unique.

Calum Mackinnon, Co-Founder of Sixes, said: “We are beyond delighted to be opening our flagship venue in the heart of West London. Cricket is a game for everyone, and we’re so excited to continue to expand the game across the country.

“Inspired by the infectious energy felt within Sixes first four venues, the overall vibe of Sixes London is loud, proud and unapologetic. Yet again we’re looking to challenge every stereotype, reimaging the age-old game of cricket to bring people together for an experience as vibrant and as passionate as the community that surrounds the sport.

“What’s more, we are excited to offer free batting in the nets to everyone for the first two weeks of business, alongside a great range of food, beer, and cocktails at the venue.”

For further information and to book online, please visit the Sixes Social Cricket website here:

The need for speed: Automated sortation and robotic labelling

August 16th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Emerging technologies have the potential to shape the future of omnichannel retail and order fulfilment, explains Ed Turner, CIO, Asendia UK in this article. 

Retailers reliant on parcel delivery services to keep their e-commerce divisions performing smoothly are right to be anxious just now. At a time when shoppers want ever-faster deliveries, postal and delivery firms are finding it hard to compete in a tough market.

Higher energy and freight costs, and staff shortages are affecting everyone in the sector. So, what’s the best way to maintain service levels and efficiency, without significantly raising prices for retailers’ delivery services?

In a word, automation. It’s nothing new, but in the next few years, I believe investment in automated processes in fulfilment centres and warehouses will need to massively scale up, so that retailers can keep pace with customer demand for fast, reliable deliveries.

Future-proofing warehouses

I’ve seen first-hand how robotic technology can streamline processes in the e-commerce warehouse, while boosting customer service levels. There’s amazing innovation in this space around AI and the use of data analytics and machine learning to drive efficiency. There are countless AR and VR developments, although these seem not to be taking off as dramatically as was envisaged a couple of years ago.

For me, automation is the tech that will give retailers – and the logistics partners they rely upon so heavily – competitive edge in the coming decade. At Asendia UK we have just implemented six robotic arms capable of over-labelling 7,200 parcels an hour, which will vastly speed up a very manual process and free up operational colleagues for other tasks. The robots are coupled with an automated parcel sorter that will scan, weigh and sort the parcels to all global locations.

Automation doesn’t come cheap. This tech overhaul of our facility at Heathrow cost £2.5m, but like so many players in the market today, Asendia felt this to be an essential upgrade, that will prepare us, and our retail clients, for future growth. Ultimately, the streamlined processing of parcels for international shipping will help retailers reach shoppers around the world much faster.

Why automate?

As e-commerce has grown exponentially, there can be challenges in warehouses when manual work becomes too challenging, due to the sheer volume of parcels that need to be processed. For example, Black Friday inevitably results in a surge in parcels being posted out to customers. Such seasonal shopping bonanzas create huge spikes in demand for services at e-commerce fulfilment and distribution sites.

With automation comes the ability to scale volumes, offer flexible services, provide data, and release employees from difficult, manual work. Retailers, many of whom have fast-growing e-commerce audiences around the world, want to benefit directly from seeing their parcels pass through facilities faster than ever. There are also labour cost efficiencies in the long-term.

By introducing different robotic and automated solutions it’s possible to rationalise storage space, as well as accelerate the lead time between ordering and delivery. You’re introducing smoother, safer operations overall, often with a more logical flow of parcels through the building.

Offering flexibility

When committing to warehouse automation, specialist logistics companies must be reactive and able to offer flexibility in fulfilment needs.

The big challenge with parcel processing automation is designing and developing robotic functionality that can handle a plethora of different sized boxes and bags, as well as mixed sizes of pallets, boxes and containers where the parcels are placed ready for shipping. This is particularly the case with warehouses processing parcels from many different retailers and brands, all of which will have different packaging, labels, sizing and customer care needs.

Data systems also need to integrate, both with the retail client, and with a host of shipping partners, in our case air freight companies for onward transportation.

If you can embed reliable technology that supports all these anomalies, it’s possible to meet the needs of retail sellers, and help them hit growth and speed-of-delivery targets.

Tomorrow is faster

Throughout the retail supply chain, robotic technology is helping to take the strain. As the technology beds in, proactive warehouse teams are discovering ways to speed up the flow of parcels even further. Anyone working in the e-commerce logistics sector will be delighted to see pressure at peak eased by reliable robots. And with all the processing benefits and the faster efficiencies, this incredible technology is what will differentiate us in our industry in the years to come.

The Lexicon secures a range of new lettings

August 16th, 2022 | Latest News | 0 Comments

  • The Lexicon has announced an impressive list of new signings, cementing the complex as a premium retail and leisure destination in the Thames Valley
  • Latest lettings come on the back of its events programme scooping up a prestigious Pineapple Award

The Lexicon, a joint venture between Schroders Capital UK Real Estate Fund (SCREF) and Legal & General Capital, has announced that Hobbs, Wimpy, Gymfinity Kids, Laser Clinic, Hat and Home and Perfect Smile will take a combined 22,041 sq ft at the scheme.

These new arrivals follow the news that Sports Direct will also open a 40,000 sq ft store. This highlights the continued strong demand for well-placed units within popular retail and leisure destinations, with the centre now 70% let.

Hobbs, the luxury womenswear brand, have committed to taking a 2,260 sq ft space in the former Jack Wills store and will sit alongside other household fashion favourites TK Maxx, Next and H&M.

Meanwhile iconic UK burger chain, Wimpy will occupy a 3,799 sq ft unit, adding to an already diverse food and beverage (F&B) offering which also includes Wagamama, Prezzo and Nandos.

Finally, Gymfinity Kids, Laser Clinic, Hat and Home and Perfect Smile will add to the lifestyle and leisure offering at The Lexicon to create an even more varied retail experience by taking a combined 15,982 sq ft. Meanwhile O2 will relocate from its current location in Princess Square to the former Carphone Warehouse unit.

These latest lettings highlight how The Lexicon continues to attract strong retail and F&B brands. This is aided by the open air and consumer-friendly layout of the centre which utilises pedestrian walkways, covered areas and entertainment facilities to create a modern mixed use shopping destination that is helping to improve Bracknell’s day and night-time economy.

The Lexicon also recently captured a prestigious placemaking award, as its events programme, including The Bracknell Forest Giants activation, earned it a sought-after Pineapple Award.

The flurry of new lettings at The Lexicon highlights the confidence retailers and F&B outlets have in the centre and evidences the work Schroders Capital’s real estate asset management team has done in supporting tenants through the pandemic and other obstacles.

Tom Woolven, Asset Manager at Schroders Capital, commented: “We are delighted with the lettings we have secured at The Lexicon over the past few months. The arrival of these new leading retail, F&B and leisure brands, combined with the plans to further enhance the centre will ensure The Lexicon remains a thriving retail destination which continues to attract people from across the Thames Valley.

“The Lexicon is integral to the redevelopment of Bracknell town centre, and these latest lettings will also help solidify the town’s status as a key destination within the Berkshire region. As the scheme continues to go from strength to strength, we are excited to see how these new lettings will accelerate the towns rejuvenation in the future.”

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