Portland takes on consultancy role for ABC

Lebanon’s largest retail group ABC has appointed UK based firm Portland Design as its retained designed consultants for a large scale expansion programme. Portland currently carries out some 60% of its work in the Middle East.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  June 1, 2006

Lebanon’s largest retail group ABC has appointed UK based firm Portland Design as its retained designed consultants for a large scale expansion programme. Portland currently carries out some 60% of its work in the Middle East. The design firm’s first project is the Achrafieh department store in Beirut. “The strategy underpinning the retail planning was to create a central axis to assist customer orientation and wayfinding; heighten customer awareness of the various categories available and encourage circulation,” says Michael Fern, senior designer at Portland. The designer has created a series of ‘milestones’ and ‘hotspots’, highlighting the latest products in-store. A unique design feature is the capsule display area at the top of the stairs, which showcases products from each department on the floor within a focused display environment. Each area has been designed to take on its own visual style whilst working within the ABC overall architecture. The lingerie area has been developed to create a softer, more feminine environment using a palette of flesh tones, mirror and frosted acrylic. The main women’s fashion room maintains an overall neutral colour scheme allowing for brand personalisation by the individual concessions. Customer checkouts have been relocated to key positions that highlight entrances to departments and provide points of interaction. The designer has also created in-store ‘window frames’ where products and mannequins can be attractively displayed. “We’re helping ABC to reposition themselves from a traditional department model to create a more confident and direct communication with their customer. ABC has the best products and we want to create the best environment in which to display them,” says Fern. As an aid to this, Portland will be producing guidelines to be issued to all concessions with the aim of improving the quality of visual merchandising and achieving greater consistency throughout the stores. The guidelines will outline basic parameters such as sight lines — aimed at improving views into shopping areas to entice customers to explore, architectural zones and merchandise heights. “Over the various projects within ABC Achrafieh, we’ve worked on store developments aimed at improving the customer experience (like creating a more dramatic entrance to the ground floor jewellery room and repositioning a café) to create an instore destination, to more strategic projects like planning principles and concession guidelines for the perfume and cosmetic halls,” says Fern.

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