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STORE SPACES

Johnnie Walker strides into flagship retail

BY Marianne Wilson

Even spirit makers are getting into experiential retail.

Johnnie Walker has opened its first experiential flagship, in Madrid.

The space, designed for Scotch lovers and whisky novices alike, features a wide variety of immersive experiences, including whisky appreciation classes and tastings.

Visitors can choose from a special collection of Johnnie Walker whiskies, purchase some of the rarest single malts from which Johnnie Walker is crafted and explore limited edition curated collaborations exclusive to the store. Among the experiences is an interactive hosting area where customers can discover the craft of cocktail making, a tasting table where they can deep dive into the flavors that make up Johnnie Walker and a personalization station where personalized engravings and labels can be added to purchases. The store also offers virtual experiences that include a tour of Scotland.

“We’re always looking for new ways to surprise and engage our customers and this kind of experiential Johnnie Walker flagship store does just that,” said John Williams, Johnnie Walker global brand director. “It also adds a sense of fun and discovery to shopping and is a whole new way of experiencing the diversity and rich heritage of Johnnie Walker.”

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Facebook delves into brick-and-mortar retail via Macy’s

BY Marianne Wilson

Social media giant Facebook has opened its first-ever retail pop-ups.

In a blog post, Facebook said it has opened temporary shops for the holidays in nine Macy’s locations that will bring 100 of “the most-loved small businesses and digital-native brands on Facebook and Instagram into retail stores for the holiday season.”

The pop-ups, open Nov.7 through early February, are located in Macy’s locations in New York City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. They are part of The Market @ Macy’s, the department store’s pop-up market concept that features a rotation selection of varied offerings across merchandise categories.

“We know the power of connecting businesses with the people who love them most, which is why we’re proud to play a role in expanding the communities of these businesses to in-store shoppers at one of the most beloved retail stores in the world,” Facebook stated.

The pop-ups include the digitally-native brand Two Blind Brothers, a non-profit that makes ultra-soft designer clothing to help fund blindness research. Others include Love Your Melon, Bespoke Post and Charleston Gourmet Burger Company.

To mark the opening, many of the brands appearing in Macy’s Herald Square location will be celebrated in an ad campaign running in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The campaign will run for three weeks beginning Nov.7.

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CVS Q3 beat Street; to test new type of stores

BY Marianne Wilson

CVS Health on Tuesday reported sales and earnings that beat Street estimates and said its acquisition of Aetna is expected to close by Thanksgiving.

Also on Tuesday, CVS CEO Larry Merlo told Wall Street analysts that the company plans to test concept stores with medical services to learn which are most effective and can be scaled across CVS’ locations, reported CNBC. Some of the services to be piloted include managing common chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, and combining Aetna’s clinical programs with CVS’ stores to help guide patients when they’re discharged.

“We’re making the consumer experience, which will be in an increasingly important competitive differentiator, and we are hard at work creating a plan to differentiate CVS Health in these patient journeys with the goal of making them simpler and more personalized while making care more accessible,” Merlo said in the report.

CVS’ net income for the quarter rose to $1.4 billion, or $1.36 per share, up from $1.3 billion, or $1.26 per share in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue rose 2.4%, to $47.3 billion, beating estimates of $47.18 billion, fueled by a 6.4% increase in CVS’ retail/long-term care segment. Same-store sales increased 6.7%, with pharmacy same-store sales up 8.7%. Front-end sales inched up 0.8%.

“Strong revenue and adjusted EPS, along with significant cash flow year-to-date, demonstrate our success in driving value,” Merlo said in a statement. “Our year-to-date results continue to validate our confidence in the strength of our model. As we approach the closing of our transformative acquisition of Aetna, our integration teams are making great progress to assure that once final approvals are obtained, we can begin to execute on our integration plans.”

Since the close of Q3, CVS Health received the Department of Justice’s conditional approval of the Aetna acquisition, dependent on the divestment of Aetna’s standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The company is selling those assets to a subsidiary of WellCare Health plans, with the close subject to the close of the merger. The company now is waiting on five state approvals, with the transaction expected to close by Thanksgiving.

“While CVS and Aetna remain separate companies today, the performance of both companies highlights the very solid financial foundation on which we’ll build our revolutionary new model that will transform the health care experience for consumers and, in the process, deliver substantial value for our shareholders,” Merlo said.

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