Esprit transforms stores to offer a better shopping experience
Oil paintings, sculptures, comfortable sofas, a walnut tea table and plenty of green plants.
These design elements - usually seen in galleries or coffee shops - have inspired Esprit to create its new-generation "Lighthouse" outlets.
As part of its transformation plan, the casual wear brand has decided to replace its glossy red-and-white stores dating from the 1990s with a more natural and relaxing environment in the hope of attracting customers who have fallen for the modern looks of its rivals Zara and H&M.
On Breite Street in Cologne, the brand's first Lighthouse store has been in operation since November last year.
The 800 square metre Esprit store is next door to H&M and just across the street from a Zara outlet.
Esprit sells a pair of jeans for €59 (HK$586), 10 to 15 per cent higher than a similar product in the other two stores.
At about 4pm on a weekday afternoon, both Zara and H&M have eight to 10 shoppers in them picking out garments, and there are queues at the cashiers. Esprit's store is quieter, with only four or five customers in it.
A female customer, who identified herself as Uta, a 43-year-old employee in a local online media company, said: "The refurbishment in the store is very nice. It's better than the old one. Compared with H&M and Zara, I think Esprit's products are more classic, which suits me better."
Another shopper, Shari, a 30-year-old psychiatrist, looked around in H&M and Zara but showed no interest in entering Esprit's shop.
"I love fashionable brands. Just by looking at their shop windows, you can find the other two are more fashionable than Esprit," she said.
Esprit said its new concept stores has been well received by customers and that traffic after the refurbishment increased about 25 per cent.