STORE SPACES

FAO Schwarz to open first-ever European flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Iconic toy retailer FAO Schwarz continues to expand its horizons.

The company will open a 20,000-sq.-ft. store inside London’s famed Selfridges’ department store. The space, described as FAO Schwarz’s first ever European flagship, will feature the brand’s full collection of toys and interactive experiences.

The Selfridges location is set to open on November 1, 2019. It will be inspired by the FAO flagship at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. The store opened in November and marked the company’s return to the Big Apple some three years after it exited Fifth Ave. It offers an array of experiential activities, and enhances memories of the best FAO experiences from years past, including its dance-on piano keyboard and clock tower. The London store will follow the opening of an FAO flagship in Beijing, China this spring.

FAO Schwarz, whose roots date back to 1862, was acquired by Toys ‘R’ Us in 2009. It once operated about 40 stores nationwide, but eventually was down to only the Fifth Ave. flagship. In 2016, Toys “R” Us sold the brand to ThreeSixty Group, which designs, makes and distributes toys and other consumer products to retailers nationwide.

“Similar to FAO, Selfridges is an iconic retail brand that delivers amazing experience and theater to its customers, therefore this was the perfect place for us to be,” said Jan-Eric Kloth, COO at ThreeSixty Group. “FAO Schwarz is a global brand that stands for experience and wonder.”

The FAO store at Selfridges will feature similar experiences to the New York location, including the piano keyboard, along with in-store demos designed to instill the wonderment, theater, and “play” that FAO is known for. It will also feature the “FAO Raceway” where visitors can work alongside trained “mechanics” to build remote-control cars piece-by-piece with the option to customize their car’s body style, color, wheels, and designs. The experience was introduced in the Rockefeller Plaza location.

“FAO Schwarz is the world’s most inventive and inspiring toy store and the perfect partner for Selfridges’ reimagined toy department,” said Eleanor Robinson, director of accessories, kidswear & toys at Selfridges. “We like to think of Selfridges as a retail playground; the unparalleled product and experience that FAO Schwarz will bring to our Oxford Street store will mean that sentiment has never been more true.”

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