STORE SPACES

Chute Gerdeman acquired

BY Marianne Wilson

Retail design firm Chute Gerdeman has been acquired by FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) Chicago, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

The Columbus, Ohio-based Chute Gerdeman will now align with FCB/RED, the company's retail and shopper marketing division, to deliver full omnichannel retail marketing and connected physical branded experiences.

FCB/RED provides expertise in retail marketing, branded content and experiences, activation and digital. It has often worked with third-party teams to provide full store environmental design scale and build out. Chute Gerdeman, with a core competency in the retail and restaurant categories, fills this space in FCB/RED's offerings. The newly expanded retail and shopper marketing division will be led by Tina Manikas, president of FCB/RED.

"Creating Chute Gerdeman and growing the company has been my life's work," said Denny Gerdeman, co-founder and chairman of Chute Gerdeman. "The people here have been essential to its success and I owe it to them to ensure a path forward. FCB/RED acquiring Chute Gerdeman creates a way to do just that. This is an opportunity for our team to expand their already vast retail and restaurant knowledge all while exposing them to new methods of strategy and design."

Chute Gerdeman will retain its name and Columbus office, as well as its full complement of strategic, creative and implementation teams.

"This partnership will allow for more opportunities to effectively and proactively engage and solve the challenges of retail today," said Brian Shafley, CEO, Chute Gerdeman. "Chute Gerdeman's proven ability to deliver best-in-class physical experiences connecting with shoppers corresponds perfectly with FCB/RED's shopper marketing and insights expertise."

The acquisition highlights the evolution of today's retail industry and the value in offering an end-to-end retail solution for companies with a brick-and-mortar presence. As brick-and-mortar retail continues to merge with online experiences, customers are still visiting physical locations on their path to purchase, often finalizing their retail transactions in store as opposed to online.

FCB/RED is the global, shopper-first brand agency of FCB, a fully integrated marketing communications agency that has more than 8,000 employees in 120 offices in 80 countries.

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STORE SPACES

Westfield in partnership with Uber

BY Al Urbanski

Westfield’s billion-dollar renovation of its Century City Mall in Los Angeles will include a swanky Uber Lounge where customers can wait in style for their rides.

The shopping center owner has formed a partnership with Uber to facilitate use of shared rides at its centers nationwide. The mall owner will create drop-off and pick-up stations at every one of its U.S. properties, whose locations will be digitally mapped into the Uber app. The idea: make pick-ups and drop-offs easier and build mall traffic.

The deal includes the introduction of Westfield's first permanent Uber Lounge, which will be located at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles. The center is undergoing a $1 billion renovation to debut this fall. Westfield Century City's Uber Lounge will feature ultra-modern design, sleek seating, and customer amenities to let customers “wait for their Uber in style,” according to a company press release.

Moving forward, Westfield centers will host between one and ten Uber stations – each with prominent visibility, accessibility, and signage – similar to dedicated taxi stands or ridesharing pick-up points at entertainment and transportation venues. At some of the Westfield destinations, the Uber stations will also include kiosks with customer service representatives and "brand ambassadors trained to engage with customers and facilitate their Uber experience," the company said.

“Westfield’s shopping centers already have…digital enhancements such as product search, directional, and frictionless parking,” said Westfield COO William Hecht. The Uber deal, he added, “makes it more convenient than ever to travel to and from any Westfield destination.”

The service is not new to L.A. Caruso has for some time had a permanent Uber pick-up/drop-off location at The Grove. Last year it was the Uber’s busiest spot in the city with more than 2,000 drop-offs daily.

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Home furnishings brand continues global expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

West Elm brand is expanding in the U.K.

The retailer, a division of Williams-Sonoma, will open its second U.K. location, in the London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames in winter 2017. The two-story, 8,000-sq.-ft. store is on the ground floor of Bentalls Shopping Centre. The new location will open with the brand's holiday assortment, along with a signature mix of furniture and accessories, and Fair Trade Certified and handcrafted products.

It will also offer Williams-Sonoma's design consultation program, Design Crew, which pairs customers with experts who provide design services.

“We’ve had four successful years introducing ourselves to the U.K. through our Tottenham Court Road store, a strong e-commerce business and a thriving wholesale partnership with John Lewis, said West Elm president Alex Bellos. “Creating the best store experience and connecting with our surrounding community is rooted in West Elm’s values. We are excited to connect with local artists, makers and designers through our West Elm LOCAL program by offering them space to sell their wares and bringing our regular cadence of workshops, classes, and engaging events.”

West operates 102 retail stores in the United States, Australia, Canada and the U.K., ships internationally to customers around the world and has unaffiliated franchisees that operate stores in Mexico, the Middle East, Philippines and South Korea. In addition to home furnishings retail, West Elm operates West Elm Workspace in the commercial furnishings industry and announced its expansion into the travel and hospitality industry with the launch of West Elm Hotels. West Elm publishes the blog Front+Main and is part of an active community on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.

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