With its stylish image, fashion retailer Guess? holds itself to a high standard in its stores. But with more than 400 U.S. and Canadian locations, it can be a challenge to keep each store up to date. To that end, the company developed its “Wish List” program, whereby regional store operations teams send in requests for store-level improvements to corporate.
While the program began as a way for the company to be alerted to the need for minor touch-ups, it has evolved into a way to identify and solve larger problems without a major capital outlay. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Guess’ Chicago flagship, where the request was for an updated look and a bigger spotlight on accessories and denim.
“The design team formulated solutions within budget constraints to bring the store up to brand standards and our global initiatives,” said Allen Kieffer, VP retail development, Guess, Los Angeles.
To enliven the 12,500-sq.-ft., two-story Michigan Avenue space, as well as spotlight the denim presentation, Guess turned its focus to the fixtures, specifically a series of maple perimeter cabinets, 4 ft. to 12 ft. in width. The cabinetry, along with some ancillary furniture pieces, had become dated and were detracting from the retailer’s signature brand palette of red, black and white. Since a full retrofit was impractical from a budgetary and time standpoint, the company looked for ways to update and reuse the existing fixtures, which would allow it to revitalize the store in a cost-effective manner.
Guess found the ideal solution in ProBond, a coating product from ProCoat Products, Holbrook, Mass., which can be applied to any number of materials.
Guess used ProBond throughout the interior, spray painting the maple perimeter and freestanding cabinets, maple nesting tables, two-ways, cashwraps, benches and the fitting-rooms’ maple components. ISP Painting, Naperville, Ill., assisted on the project.
“We moved all merchandise to the middle of the store, covered it, then sprayed the fixtures on site,” explained Vember Stuart-Lilley, special projects manager, retail development for Guess. “As part of the same project, we were pushing forward the accessory area, so the general contractor would come in during the day for buildout, and then ISP Painting would come in at 8:00 p.m. and spray through the night.”
The scratch-resistant ProBond coating dried in 24 hours and, according to Stuart-Lilley, provided maximum impact within a restrained budget. It made for a fast-track makeover, minimizing the store’s downtime to just five nights. ProBond comes in a full range of colors. Guess opted for “super white” to provide a neutral backdrop for the retailer’s color palette.
“The new look has really impacted our street traffic and sales,” Stuart-Lilley said, “and has given a modern backdrop for our products, as well as brought the location to our current brand standards.”
In addition to the new all-white environment, the store carried out several other updates, including an expansion of the accessories presentation. Also, the store’s white walls were edged with a veneer material. Cost-wise, the project came in at about a third of a full remodel.
According to Kieffer, the Chicago location served as a test for the ProBond product. Guess has since used it in a store in Orlando, Fla.
“We will continue to use the product in other stores as we identify the right circumstances for use,” he added. “It’s really significant what it provides in terms of impact.”