Following online success, British retailer Loaf.com is set to launch its first store in autumn 2015. The six-year old furniture and accessories brand is moving into a physical retail space following rapid growth. With sales of £27m for 2014/15, the expansion will help to achieve the goal of growing sales to £100m over the next few years.
It started out with a select offering of just 12 beds and one mattress back in 2008, today they cover the entire home and are ranked as the 52nd fastest growing brand in the UK by The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100.
The 7,500 sq ft space, called a ‘Loaf Shack’, will be located in London’s fast-developing Battersea area. Charlie Marshall, the forty-year-old founder of Loaf, aims to create the most laid-back showroom in Britain:
“We want customers to feel relaxed enough to kick-off their shoes, put their feet up and experience why we’re dubbed ‘the sultans of snug’,” he said. “In fact, I’d call it less of a showroom and more of a Slowroom!”
Research shows that there is still a proportion of customers who want to see and touch the products first-hand. In keeping with their mission of making laid-back furniture for people to “live happier, more relaxed lives,” Loaf’s first ever Shack will not be a typical showroom but will include interactive elements ranging from an ice cream parlour to chill-out areas and “The Snugville Mattress Testing Arena”.
Loaf has bucked the dot com trend with its move to become a multi-channel retailer. Marshall believes that the future of ecommerce will see brands migrate to large physical spaces with multi-channel platforms working more intelligently alongside each other: “Back when we launched there weren’t many dedicated online retailers for just beds – they tended to be physical shops with websites added. The opportunity for us then was to sell beautiful products faster and cheaper than the high street. Today it’s no longer just about price, it’s increasingly about quality, service and brand allegiance.”
Loaf attributes their success to responding to the demand for characterful, handmade and affordable furniture along with outstanding customer service. Marshall sees “the old school as the new school” placing importance on keeping the brand magic and focusing on customer handholding, rather than bamboozling visitors with flashy technology. The idea is that the website, brochure and Loaf Shack will all sync seamlessly for an enriched customer journey. For Marshall, “Loaf’s move to bricks and clicks is all about reaffirming our brand and giving customers a fantastic experience.”