Disney?s channel

Disney is refurbishing its retail offering with a new look for its 56-strong chain of outlets. Ronnie Dungan spoke to marketing director Jo Webb about the firm?s plans for the High Street?
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With High School Musical and its sequel currently one of the most popular phenomena in the children’s market and new film Ratatouille due this month, Disney Store has its hands on what are sure to be two of the most sought-after lines this Christmas with many products exclusive.

But the store is also ensuring that it will ensure a steady flow of what it, in typical Disney fashion, calls ‘guests’ and what everyone else calls customers over Christmas and beyond with a series of store refurbishments.

It kicked off with a re-opening of its flagship Lakeside store complete with a High School Musical pep rally featuring cheerleaders demonstrating dance routines to favourite songs from both High School Musical and High School Musical 2.

The re-opening comes after an extensive refurbishment and was the first of the 56 UK Disney Stores to embody the brand new store concept.

Technology is at the heart of the new store proposition and personalisation of products will also play a role.

New features include a Pixie Arch which welcomes guests to the store and which is made up of fibre optic lights that change colour throughout the day giving a twinkling pixie dust effect. Then, at the centre of the store is the ‘Heart of Disney’; a 10 foot tower with a 360 degree wraparound screen showcasing clips from the latest Disney releases as well as details on upcoming events.

In addition to this there are seven new plasma screens around the store so that guests can ‘shop and watch’ in style as well as mini-plasma screens embedded into the cash and wrap area ensuring young shoppers are entertained too.

An overhead moving rail has been installed on the ceiling which moves around the area of the store and which carries Perspex pods that contain the latest ranges.

It’s all part of the firm’s commitment to providing an unrivalled in-store experience. The so-called Disney ‘magic’.

Marketing director Jo Webb, told ToyNews: “It’s important to be a destination store. We want people to come to us because of a point of difference and for premium product. The Disney philosophy is all about the experience. People go to Disney because they have a great experience. It’s part of the magic.

“To us it’s really important that the ‘guest’ feels special. We don’t want people to feel that they’re mere consumers.

The difference with the Disney Store is that the vast majority of the products in-store are exclusive to the chain plus the pick of the licensed products.

Most of the product development is done in Hammersmith.

“We have to create products relevant for the UK market,” says Webb. “Some of the products come from the US but 95 per cent of the products in-store are developed by us for the UK.

“Where we can develop our own products we will and licensed product fills in the gaps.”

Disney Store is probably unique among toy retailers in that price is not a concern, in fact, most ‘guests’ have an expectation that Disney prices might not be as competitive elsewhere. But it does have the pressure of delivering on the Disney brand’s unique properties.

And it’s this commitment to producing a store infrastructure which is leading to the firm’s current overhaul in the UK and across Europe, with new territories being added soon.



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