Microsoft to plant retail flag in London
Microsoft will open its third flagship location, which will also be the company's first retail store in London.
The company announced plans to open a flagship on Regent Street at Oxford Circus. The location, which in the heart of the city's retail district, is just down the road from an Apple flagship.
"We couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central London at Oxford Circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet," said Cindy Rose, head of Microsoft in the U.K. and the company's partner throughout the location selection process. "This will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with Microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”
Microsoft did not say when the store would open or reveal any design details. But similar to the company's other stores, it's expected that the London outpost will showcase Microsoft's hardware and software offerings, allowing for hands-on experiences by customers, and host free workshops and other events.
Currently, the tech giant operates approximately 100 mostly mall-based stores, with a flagship in New York City and Sydney, Australia.
Uniqlo to debut new specialty store concept
Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo is going all out for denim in Los Angeles.
The company, part of Fast Retailing Group, will open a special store dedicated to denim in the Arts District of Los Angeles this fall/winter. The new "denim concept" shop will be Uniqlo's 47th location in the U.S., and ninth in the L.A. region following the opening at Westfield Santa Anita mall earlier in September.
The denim store will take its inspiration from Uniqlo's new Jeans Innovation Center, a sustainable R&D facility located in Los Angeles. It will highlight Japanese craftsmanship and the fabrics that go into the development of the brand's jeans.
Every element of the shop will be an homage to denim and the L.A. community. Upon entering, customers will be introduced to the brand’s heritage in Japanese textile innovation, showcasing the research and development that comes from parent company Fast Retailing’s Jeans Innovation Center through visuals and prototypes.
The latter part of the store will feature an area for customers to test, try and shop the full range of Uniqlo's denim offerings. Each fit will be highlighted within mini-concept areas styled with complementary Uniqlo apparel, including T-shirt collaborations, sweaters, blouses and outerwear. Included in the lineup will be product from L.A. denim brand, J Brand, which is also a part of Fast Retailing Group.
Fast-casual giant to open its largest location ever — in New York City
Chick-fil-A is going big in the Big Apple with a location that will also include some atypical features for the chain.
The company will open its third restaurant in Manhattan, on Fulton Street in the Financial District, in 2018. At more than 12,000 sq. ft., it will be the chain's largest location to date, with five levels, complete with a rooftop terrace for dining. It will feature design elements that have never been featured at a Chick-fil-A restaurant before.
“We pushed ourselves to break into new ways of thinking and try innovative solutions we’ve never implemented before,” said Nathaniel Cates, design manager for restaurant development at Chick-fil-A. “We are always thinking about how to make the dining experience feel as comfortable as possible for our customers.”
The design team took advantage of an open courtyard behind the building by adding a large window in the back of the restaurant. Since Chick-fil-A has the whole building, it also brought in natural light through a skylight. (Only three of the company’s more than 2,100 restaurants across the U.S. have skylights.)
In addition to the skylight, the Fulton street restaurant will have floor-to-ceiling windows on each level and brightly colored interior finishes. Starting on the second floor, there is a window that also spans the second and third floors, allowing natural light to flood in from the rear courtyard.
At only 15 ft. wide, the space is the chain's most narrow location. So the company built up. The restaurant’s five levels include two levels of kitchen space for food prep, and three levels of dining areas to seat 140 patrons.
A signature monumental staircase – the first one ever to be built for a Chick-fil-A restaurant – ties the five levels together. It will extend from the fourth level to the ground floor, accentuated by the skylight. According to Cates, the staircase, together with the skylight, alert customers that there is seating upstairs.
“A huge, white wall also extends along the staircase to reflect light down from the top floor to the ground floor,” Cates said. “This entire feature brightens the space and nicely creates an illusion of space.”
Chick-fil-A will occupy the entire building, which allows them to add a rooftop terrace. The space allows for views of New York City's latest architectural landmark, the Freedom Tower.
“The Fulton Street metro station is right next door to the restaurant, and no one will ever build on top of it,” Cates said. “That means our guests will always have the same views of Freedom Tower. That was another advantage of the building that we were grateful to have.”
Inside on the uppermost floor, there is another first for Chick-fil-A restaurants: A multi-purpose, semi-private section of the dining room that can be set up to reveal white boards and cork boards for group trainings or meetings. While it is designed with the company’s restaurant team in mind, the space may also be available for other groups in the future.
The new Chick-fil-A site sits less than half a mile from Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial. The company said it specific design elements have been incorporated into the restaurant’s façade in order to give passersby “a subtle impression of the Twin Towers.” The feature is designed to “acknowledge the significance of location.”