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Opinion: Craig Phillipson of Shopworks on why London and Retail Design Expo are so important on a global stage

Craig Phillipson

The UK is recognised for the high quality of its designers. It has one of the most established design industries in the world, with London as its creative hub.

The capital is a hotbed of innovation and creativity, enjoying an unrivalled reputation for its world-renowned art colleges, institutions and specialist design companies. These are the places that have whole-heartedly embraced the discipline of retail design, nurturing both local and international talent. Shopworks is regularly approached by overseas designers wishing to hone their creative skills in a city they identify as being the leader in the field of retail design.

This focus on retail design enables home-grown agencies to address the fundamental understandings - anticipating customer needs and expectations and marrying these with creative and commercial nous - to create not only a good looking shop but one that works hard to leverage every single penny spent in-store. These design companies understand the power of theatre to engage and retain customers, helping retailers to beat high street rivals whilst offering a compelling alternative to shopping online. 

Seen as a truly global City, London is strategically placed to attract visitors, students and businesses from across the globe. Its international brands are a magnet for investment that has made London the shopping capital of the world. And the lure is only getting stronger. We regularly conduct retail 'tours', so global companies get to see what's new and exciting. Australia's leading wellbeing pharmacy did just that recently, choosing London as they felt the City was well placed to offer the best retail examples, with a breadth and depth not found elsewhere.

The UK retail sectors' innovative culture in areas such as e-commerce and self-service is reshaping shopping experiences across the world and has put London at the vanguard of multi-channel shopping. Retailers open their flagship stores and trial new concepts, looking to London to benchmark what's good and what works. Walk down Bond Street, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Mount Street to see some of the most exclusive and exciting retail brands. The peripheries are not ignored. There's theatre in abundance in the shopping centres of White City to the West and Stratford to the East, both leading the charge for all you could want in retail and leisure.

There's undeniably a strong case for London to be known as the capital of retail, but where to start when you're a retailer looking for inspiration to make your own offer better than the rest? 

With a reputation as being at the forefront of retail design, the City remains an essential hub. So Retail Design Expo is the natural place to come for both domestic and international retailers looking to up their game in creating sector-leading shopping environments. For non-retailers, the evetn provides a great opportunity for design professionals from around the world to share and exchange creative insights.  This constant cross-pollination is essential, allowing all to benefit from each other's ideas.

And whilst there, everyone gets the opportunity to hear first hand what to expect for the future of retail design from the excellent speaker line-up.

Craig Phillipson is the founder and managing director of Shopworks. He will be speaking with Shell UK Convenience Retail Manager Will Green on Shell's new convenience offer. 10:50am 10th March, Retail Design Theatre 2