Chapel Down, one of the UK’s leading wine producers, has been producing wine from their Kent vineyard since the 1990s. Now producing more than just wine, their innovative ways have challenged them to expand out to sparkling wine, gin and beer. They’re home to the Swan, a multi-award winning restaurant specialising in modern British cuisine and locally sourced seasonal produce. And their newest addition, the Chapel Down Gin works Bar and restaurant in St. Pancras has captured the imagination of this newly developed area of London.
We’ve been lucky enough to have worked with Chapel Down for over 10 years now. After their recent refurbishment in 2018, we asked their retail director Lizzie and retail consultant Eve Reid a few questions on how things have changed.
When was Chapel Down born? Tell us a little bit about how the business was started?
The vineyard was planted in the early 70’s and we have been called Chapel Down since the mid-90s.
When did you initially open the shop, and was it a success from the beginning?
The shop has been at the vineyard since the early 90’s. It was initially refurbed in 2001 and then again in 2018. Our most recent refurbishment was done in January 2018 because the shop wasn’t working for the growth of tourism and expectations. Also, our operations had changed quite a bit, so much that we needed a bespoke design.
When redesigning the shop, what atmosphere were you trying to create and do you feel you’ve achieved that now?
Atmosphere wise, we wanted people to want to spend time with us and enjoy our products. We were mindful of people who had to wait for tours, so we created a waiting area. People coming to the end of their tours who wanted to continue their enjoyment had a space to congregate. We created a tasting bar, and lastly, we want to actively welcome and encourage locals and regular Chapel Down shoppers. We’ve added in a Deli and additional products that we feel compliment our brand. The feedback we have had has been amazing; so yes we definitely have achieved it!
You’ve used our BRIX display system throughout the shop, what made you choose them?
BRIX is modern, modular and industrial and also good quality. They have a great look that allows us to have the flexibility to change and evolve. We’ve also bought additional elements to provide us with the flexibility to do ‘pop up unit’ for events. It is also a lot cheaper than getting a shop fitter to make bespoke units!
The shop features a lot of new signage and POS.
How effective has this been in terms of customers navigating the shop?
This has reduced a lot of confusion for customers. We invested in some space planning support to ensure that there was a pre-planned customer journey. The point of sale we used was really just to announce or amplify key messages. We used WBC printing services too, which ensures all the signage is ‘on brand’. We are really pleased with the results.
Now the refurbishment is complete, how do you feel it went?
I think the refurb went really well. We were lucky to work with a great designer and great contractors so the refurb was smooth. It was longer than expected but we got exactly what we wanted.
What effect has the refurbishment had on sales within your different product categories, wine & spirits, food, gifts and tours/experiences?
It has increased revenue on all product ranges which has been a pleasant surprise!
What sort of feedback have you had from customers since the relaunch?
We have had really positive feedback from all of our customers and shareholders, they love the new space!
With such a great array of products available, how important is gifting to Chapel Down and does your gift offering change throughout the year?
Our gift operation is important to us, mostly between October and December throughout the Christmas push. We offer gifting options throughout the year for anyone that’s looking for something a bit special to take away. As part of the refurb we used WBC’s overprinting service to create our own branded packaging; this included Gift Boxes, Bags & Cartons and take away shopping Bags.
What are your key trading periods of the year, and how do you attract customers to the shop in the low season?
Our key trading periods are from March to December. In January and February, we offer special tours to attract footfall and increase the number of visitors.
Does the store layout change seasonally?
Our designer Eve (Metamorphosis Group) designed our store to have a high season and a low season layout. This is what is so useful with using BRIX as we can expand and retract the shop floor fixtures as required.
What’s next for Chapel Down? Are there any exciting plans for the future (that you can tell us about?)
Lots in the pipeline. The Curious Brewery opening earlier this year in Ashford has been a great success. Our other big headline is the new Kings Cross ‘Gin Works’ experiential bar, restaurant and ginnery.