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RBTE 2016: Bringing the history of Abbey Road Studios into a retail store

Abbey Road Studios' opening of a shop alongside the famous music recording business broke many of the rules of retail but has quickly become a successful new revenue stream, which has also helped fuel greater online sales for the company.

Speaking at RBTE 2016 on day two, Isabel Garvey, managing director of Abbey Road Studios, admitted it was a "hard challenge" to open up the modest 1,000 sq ft unit because unlike other retail businesses she said the location works against it, they don't know their customers because they are 90% tourists who are also unlikely to ever visit again, and product refreshes are "tricky" because of the complexity of the rights around musicians.

The other big challenge – but also the opportunity – was to "take the iconic studio and build a commerce offer that is a credit to the studio's history". What the business had on its side was up to 400,000 people visiting the studio each year to have their photographs taken on the zebra crossing made famous by The Beatles. "It was a no-brainier to add a retail offering," she said.

Working with designers Lumsden, Garvey explained: "We wanted to give a curated experience and also try and get the studio aspect into it. And have products that have the heritage but also reflect the musicians [who've used the studio]."

Having only been open for four months the initial findings are very positive, she revealed, with 80% of the visiting traffic being captured, average transaction values are a healthy £18-20, and there is also a "massive appetite for story-telling that we're now looking to develop further".

The range developed for the new store has been added to the limited number of lines that were already available online, which has coincided with a revamp of the site. "Revenues are now multiples of what they were previously," said Garvey, who now recognises that there is also a big opportunity to sell limited edition products from the online store.