30 June 2015
Create a homely yet modern feel for the entire family. With this vision in mind, Avance opted for Pergo commercial laminate flooring for the upgrade of the company’s retail store in Bree (Belgium). Having successfully completed the pilot project, Pergo has now been asked to add its warm, contemporary touch to all Avance footwear stores.
With fifty retail stores in Belgium, four in the Netherlands and one in Luxembourg, Avance Shoes markets footwear that appeals to trend-savvy women, men and children. Avance is owned by Euro Shoe Group, who operates 390 stores as one of the largest footwear retailers in the Benelux. Other brands owned by Euro Shoe Group are Shoe Discount and Bristol, with the latter being particularly popular in the Netherlands.
Euro Shoe Group is a family-owned company with a history in footwear since 1925. The basis of its success is its dynamic view on fashion and trends in society. Because of those trends, Avance Shoes was keen to implement a new retail store concept, says Concept & Project Coordinator Didier Janssens. “With e-commerce on the rise, we have less foot traffic in our physical stores. Of course, Avance has its own webshop, but there’s still something special about building a relationship with customers on the shopfloor. By adding a more homely atmosphere and a touch of modern sophistication, more people will walk into our stores.”
The underlying idea? Now more than ever, Avance wants customers to feel at home in-store. “We all know that men generally don’t like shopping. We want to remove their dislike by providing comfortable sofas, newspapers and even drinks”, adds Didier. “We do the same for young kids, by providing a dedicated play corner. This way, women are able to shop in peace. And shopping for shoes becomes a fun experience for everyone.”
Some time ago, I had Pergo laminate flooring installed in my own home. I was pleasantly surprised by the easy click system and the wide variety in designs, widths and sizes to choose from.
Our focus on creating a homely feel means shop interiors will need to change. “Our branding colours used to be black and white, and our interiors included exposed concrete beams and concrete floors”, Didier explains. “The overall look was urban and modern, with sleek lines.” The transformation to a homely interior required a number of changes: “We decided to stick with the black and replace the white by warm wood tones. There were two ways to achieve this: timber wall panels, and Pergo laminate flooring.”
Why Pergo? “Part of the reason is personal”, Didier explains. “Some time ago, I had Pergo laminate flooring installed in my own home. I was pleasantly surprised by the easy click system and the wide variety in designs, widths and sizes to choose from. I opted for EndlessPlank oak design flooring: long planks with no visible seams. They create a feeling of space and add a contemporary look. This, combined with the realistic oak design, creates a truly homely feel. You could achieve a similar effect with wall-to-wall carpet, but carpet lacks that modern feel and is harder to keep clean. And nothing matches the warm feeling of timber floors. The Pergo laminate flooring in my home met all the requirements we had in mind for our retail stores.”
There is one slight difference. “When my grandchildren come to visit, I have no problem with letting them play on my Pergo floor. It is extremely durable, and the top layer is resistant to scratches and stains. However, our stores get much more foot traffic on a daily basis. That is why they are fitted with Class 33 Pergo flooring for added durability and scratch resistance.”
The response we received was overwhelmingly positive. Our customers truly experienced the look and feel we were going for.
The first make-over was carried out at Avance in Bree, a large peripheral retail store with a floor area of 684 m². Looking back, Didier is pleased with how smoothly the entire project went. “And that’s how it should be. When we have an official opening date, we simply have to get everything done in time. The team at Pergo have done an outstanding job. I was amazed at the simple and fast installation process. And there’s no need to rip up the entire floor to replace a damaged plank. It’s just a matter of sliding out the damaged plank and putting in a new one. Impressive.”
The ultimate test was to find out how customers responded to the new look. Were they equally excited about the upgrade? “Absolutely. The response we received was overwhelmingly positive. Our customers truly experienced the look and feel we were going for.”
Pilot project successful. Avance Shoes is now upgrading all their retail stores and is partnering with Pergo as the flooring supplier of choice. Didier says: “Our store in Diest is next in line. It’s located within the city and has a relatively small floor area of 250 m². Then, we will test the concept at one of our shopping centre locations. We’re not quite sure yet which one that will be. All Avance stores will eventually be upgraded, at a rate of two to three per year.”
Does this mean that most of Didier Janssens’ work is done? Far from it. He’s already thinking about the next project. “Our Shoe Discount stores are also due for a makeover”, he explains. “As these are discount stores, we will be working with a smaller budget. But even so, the new flooring will need to be robust and look good! I can already tell you that it’s highly likely we will choose Pergo flooring again. Thanks to the wide variety in designs and prints, and the various durability levels to choose from, there will be plenty of options to suit our budget.”
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