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Building the perfect brand store

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It is not the first shop opening Jan Berends, Commercial Director of Imagebuilders, is supervising this year, but every new shop interior fills him with excitement and relief at the same time.

“When you have worked hard for a customer for several months, you are glad that yet another turnkey project is being completed as smoothly as possible,” says Mr. Berends. “We have been building shop interiors for more than 30 years now. And it is true, we have helped to create a new image of a brand, as every store is truly a business card for the brand and its vision.”

Today, Imagebuilders can look back on a long reference list that includes famous names, ranging from adidas to Tommy Hilfiger, with a majority of customers drawn from fashion retailing.

“We have a close link with the fashion world and with beautiful things. Throughout our years in the market, we have worked in accordance with interior design developments, picking up the latest trends and translating them into shop solutions,” points out Mr. Berends. “We have introduced an à la carte model, offering a complete portfolio from which the customer can choose the menu he requires. This approach has become a true success.”

Imagebuilders provides customized turnkey projects, including initial design and concept, which are offered in cooperation with a design agency, as well as planning and final implementation. “We offer everything we can to our partners, including technical engineering, calculation, production, installation and warehousing. We really offer a full service and our clients choose according to their requirements for the new shop interior,” stresses Mr. Berends.

The company has become a close partner to the retail sector with a clear focus on fashion. It was founded in the mid-1980s around the same time as the Dutch fashion brand Mexx. “The owner of that brand came into contact with our founder, who initially built fireplaces for the rich and famous in the Netherlands,” points out Mr. Berends. “The friendship between the two businessmen resulted in a close partnership, and we worked almost exclusively for Mexx for several years. However, in 2002, I was hired to decrease dependence on Mexx and focus on acquiring new customers.”

When the close cooperation with Mexx ended in 2008, Imagebuilders had already built up a sound new customer base of well-known fashion brands and could easily stabilize its turnover. In the same year, Imagebuilders launched its activities in China.

Today, it operates a purchasing office in Shenzhen. “We have opened a sales office in Shanghai and operate another purchasing office in Istanbul, Turkey. Therefore, only small-scale projects and prototyping are processed at our Apeldoorn premises. Our main production is outsourced. Any items that have to be manufactured faster than our suppliers can manage, we produce ourselves. We are mainly interested in long-standing relationships with our clients,” points out Mr. Berends.

To date, Imagebuilders has helped to shape the store image of a host of premium fashion brands, providing a multitude of solutions down to the smallest detail. The company`s specialization in creating shop interiors that stand the test of the brand has gone international, with Imagebuilders supplying clients all over the world.

“The choice of location is up to our client; we take care of the rest,” adds Mr. Berends. Many brand stores are located in the big cities, while the number of shops in smaller cities is decreasing. “This is a simple fact you have to acknowledge,” says Mr. Berends. “It is merely a consequence of the world`s ongoing digitalization. The internet has changed shopping behavior for good, and changes in big and small cities are part of this development.”

Many of the new stores managed by fashion brands in city centers are frequented by customers, who appreciate the image of the brand. “People will only buy your clothes if you are a brand that is desirable. And you can make it desirable through advertising but also by impressing people with a gorgeous shop interior that evokes excitement. And this what we are good at,” states Mr. Berends.

“The consumer wants to experience the brand and immerse himself in the brand`s world. This is why the fashion market will see more and more beautiful and interesting stores,” says Mr. Berends. Due to economic changes, the focus of new store developments has shifted to the Pacific area, both for Imagebuilders and its customers. Flagship stores will gain in importance.

While at the moment Imagebuilders generates about 70% of its turnover in Europe and only 30% overseas, this ratio will have turned in a few years` time. “We are acting in a very positive market. Within the next few years, we will see a clear shift of focus from Europe to the Pacific region. India is important as well, even though we are not yet active there. First of all, we aim to consolidate our position in the Pacific region, and we will move on from there,” says Mr. Berends. Imagebuilders still has plenty of scope for growth in the near future.

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