Founded 25 years ago and based in Melbourne, retail design specialist Greater Group recently crossed the Tasman to open an office here at the Steelworks Building in Mount Eden in Auckland. This is the fourth arm of the business to open and follows on from the opening of the branches in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
And to lead this latest addition to its operation, Greater Group has sent across its general manager of global brand and strategy, Danielle Barclay, someone who is quite familiar with working in New Zealand.
Although she was until recently based in Melbourne, Barclay previously spent several years working in the Super City, during a period that also included a stint at DDB Shop.
Recently, StopPress sent a few questions across to Barclay to find out how she feels about returning to this side of the ditch.
Tell us about your role as head of international brand and strategy at greater group?
I am responsible for continuing to develop the greater group brand message and promoting it to new customers globally, and I also work closely with the directors of the business to help shape the business strategy.
For our clients, I ensure we interpret their brand promise into a physical retail space. This involves dissecting their brief, conducting analysis and arranging workshops to develop a design and customer experience strategy.
Now based in Auckland, I am also responsible for setting up and managing our New Zealand office.
Who are some of your clients and what projects have you got on the horizon?
Across the group we have a great résumé of brands including Samsung, OPSM, Emirates Leisure Retail (Hudsons Coffee), Pandora, Hyundai, JB Hi Fi and Westpac Group.
Here in New Zealand we are currently talking to brands who we have worked with in other markets as well as some new brands who are looking to expand their footprint both here and overseas and are looking for a New Zealand-based partner who can support scale.
What are some of the big projects Greater Group have worked on internationally?
Our most high profile projects include the design and build of the Samsung Experience stores in Australia, we have just delivered our third experience store for Samsung in Melbourne Central providing customers an immersive product experience, areas to learn and explore and a business zone to demonstrate the office of the future.
Also the international rollout of the Pandora stores and kiosks into 22 countries and most recently the design of the New Balance flagship store and café in Boston USA.
You’re returning to New Zealand after five years abroad. What retail innovations have you seen internationally that New Zealand could benefit from?
Omnichannel is certainly the growing trend driving innovation in store, we have seen signs over the past few years. However, we are now seeing this strategy coming through in retail design briefs which is exciting.
Retail brands are recognising the need to not only develop an omnichannel strategy but, most importantly, to ensure their offer is consistent in the retail store and customers can connect through multiple channels.
Technology is changing the behaviours and expectations of society. What is greater group doing to adapt to these changes for clients?
We work with clients strategically before we brief in a design solution, and this gives us an opportunity to develop an experience strategy as a foundation to the design which ensures the concept integrates technology and also appeals to the connected consumer.
In addition, we often partner with digital agencies and technology experts to provide clients a complete solution.
What do you think the top retail and design trends will be for 2015?
Reverse showrooming is a growing trend to provide added value beyond online purchase. Customers can purchase online but opt to pick up in store. This ensures brands can be more competitive on shipping costs, beat delivery times and also have the opportunity to upsell while the customer is instore.
Multi format is also something we are starting to see develop. One-size-fits-all stores don’t offer enough to the diverse range of customers, so many brands are thinking outside the square and considering how they can be more accessible to customers through mobile formats.
You’ve got offices in Australia (where the business began), Hong Kong, Shanghai and now Auckland. What’s the key to Greater Group’s successful ability to export its IP and tailor the offer to different countries/markets?
Greater Group prides itself on building long-term relationships and partnerships with the clients that have been the key to our success over the past 25 years.
Given the business is entrepreneurial at heart there is a real `can-do’ attitude throughout the culture that ensures we always deliver to a high standard no matter how tight the timeframe.
We also have a very unique offer in the market: not only do we provide clients a simple turn key solution from strategy and design right through to project management and build but we also specialise in retail as a category—and anyone working in retail knows there is a science to retail that takes years to master.