Yearly Archives: 2014

Dreaming of a White Company Christmas – Case Study


As retail developer at WBC, much of my year has been focused on growing our retail display department. Our vision is to design thoughtful and sophisticated display concepts that marry function and design at attractive price points. The fascinating this for us is that the type of retailers that now buy from us is changing too. Retail display is taken us into completely new industry territories for us, and we’re really excited about it. One of the recent highlights is a project we’ve been working on for the White Company. Here’s an outline case study of the project.

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Turn your contract catering site into a sales magnet


We’re lucky at WBC to be invited to attend a variety of showcase events around the UK, in support of our customers. Not least because it give us the opportunity to get out of the office and meet customers face-to-face, and let’s face it, very little arm twisting is needed when amazing food and drink is on offer.

I was recently asked to present our retail display, props and visual merchandising offerings at one such event held for contract caterers. The event is designed to highlight the newest food & drink trends available to them. You may have been to an event similar to this, but the idea is to give catering managers & chefs working at some of the country’s top business & industry sites, the practical knowledge and tools to effectively compete with their rivals on the high street.

I work with many of the UK’s top contract caterers and have found that increasingly the sector is aware that in order to compete with high street food chains like Pret a Manger, Costa, or EAT for example, they need to create the look and feel that’s inspiring their customers and guaranteeing those retailers maintain a steady footfall.

That can be easier said than done. The food itself isn’t the problem – from what we’ve seen the quality and variety within contract catering is truly astonishing, and creative! However the food environment and dining halls themselves are a different case altogether. Functional; in terms of visual merchandising and display they can often be cold, clinical and devoid of any character – hardly the place you want to sit and enjoy your lunch, right? That’s where we come in….

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De Beauvoir Deli’s “London hamper” in best of 2014

London-Hamper2Wicker’s back this Christmas, and back in a big way too. With just five weeks to go, we’re seeing social media, trade press and the papers lauding their ‘top 10 best of’ Christmas hampers, and once again proving the Great British love for traditional wicker hampers remains firmly at the top of Santa’s list. And still the independent is yet to release their annual top 10 best Christmas hampers, so keep an eye out for that – it usually drops in early December.

Big congrats to our friends at De Beauvoir Deli who’s Christmas ‘London Hamper’ is getting a whole lot of love in the press this week. Priced at £120, the London hamper is classically stylish, packed full of ‘on trend’ artisan foods and drink (from many of the producers we’ve come to love) and it comes perfectly wrapped in a blue printed ribbon, branded with their deli name and logo.

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TEDx Birmingham conference bags saying it like it is

TedX Birmingham

Photography Thom Bartley @ThomBarley

Bringing the most innovative, pioneering & inspiring ideas worth sharing to Brum, TEDx Birmingham or TEDxBrum as it’s known to locals, met this past weekend for a day of inspirational talks, events, conversation, performance, and perhaps most importantly – a day of change.

“This city is changing. Step by step. Little by little.We all know Birmingham isn’t perfect but it’s our home. A home we are proud of. This year, TEDxBrum’s theme is DIY.”

We hope everyone that attended the event left inspired to continue effecting positive change both in themselves and their local communities – socially, politically and economically.

Catch the recorded live stream of the event here, and to read more about TEDxBrum visit their website or follow them on twitter @TEDxBrum #TEDxBrum

Credit to photographer Thom Bartley @ThomBarley

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Crossing bridges at Malmö’s Nordic Organic Food Fair

Nordic Organic Food Fair

The Nordic Food Fair attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world giving Scandinavia and Europe’s finest organic producers an opportunity to showcase their products on an international stage.

The exhibition is held at the Malmomassan conference centre about a 10 minute walk from Hyllie train station in the greater Malmo area, just over the Oresund Bridge which you crime thriller enthusiasts may know from the Danish/Swedish TV series.

I went in search of ‘Hot Leads’ – in the entirely work related sense of the word – and to see what potential there was in the land of Jante Law, The Vikings and 1/12th of Europe’s current standing monarchies.

After an early start on Sunday morning avoiding the remnants of Saturday night at Clapham Junction train station, I eased my way through Gatwick like a hot knife through butter, arriving in Copenhagen surrounded by incredible pastries and ridiculously good looking people. I made my way to the platform to hop on the Oresundstag to Sweden.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day

Cocobagh outer building

The new Cocobagh training unit is really starting to look impressive.

Whilst the building is still very much an empty shell, our motivation to get this project up and running is back. It’s amazing how easy it is to get deflated when things don’t move quite as quickly as you hope for, especially when you can’t help but look at the project through ignorant western eyes.

We’re slowly learning that workers in India very different priorities from many of us here in Europe. And that’s ok.

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Exclusive visual merchandising workshop for local makers

Retail School

Did you know that in Europe shoppers don’t like to talk to people? It’s true, 76% of us never actually speak to a sales assistant when we’re shopping. That means that what we see makes all the difference to what we buy. How you present your products and the stage you set them in, is critical to the success of your sales. That’s the art of visual merchandising.

In partnership with Makerhood and the Metamorphosis Group, this 3 hour workshop is packed full of useful tips, tricks and guidance that we hope will take your sales to the next level. It’s hands on and practical too. You’ll be surrounded by the fantastic tools, retail props, display units and fixtures and have a chance to practice your dressing and display skills and get to grips with how to make your space work harder for you.

14:00pm – 17.00pm
Saturday 8th November 2014
WBC Retail Training Room – details below

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UK Small businesses welcome Royal Mail’s new Sunday service

Royal Mail Group Ltd. Distribution Center Ahead Of Possible IPO

On the 7th September, Royal Mail launched a pilot program that saw around 100 of its busiest delivery depots across the country open on a Sunday.

The initiative is a direct bid to fend off stiff competition from a growing number of rival carriers and of course, the increasingly popular click and collect service operators. Whether your branch opens or not is based on highest parcel volume, but the trial will also see some 1600 post offices open on Sundays too, so you never know.  Word on the street is click and collect is set to kick off with unprecedented popularity this Christmas, the likes of John Lewis say it could even take over their home delivery service.

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R.I.P R-etail I-nspiring P-rops for Halloween


Way before the tinsel of Christmas goes up, retailers in the UK gear up for Hallow’s Eve or Halloween.  What was once a primarily American celebration reaching our shores via US television and other media, Halloween has now become a thriving commercial opportunity for retailers across the country; topping well over £300 million in annual UK sales.

So if retail statistics show that Halloween is spookily good for sales, then it’s well worth having a think about dedicating at least a corner of your shop floor or retail space to it, then merchandising accordingly. The WBC Popshop has an array of esoteric products which are sure to cast a spell over your customers, and most will double up for other seasonal displays. From ghoulish to creepy to downright frightening, these are just some of the props that will help you ‘sell a story’.

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