Starbucks has unveiled the much-awaited new look for its British coffee houses – and the first of its refurbished cafes shows that the chain has certainly been closely watching the newest breed of ‘cool’ venues in central London.
The move marks a radical change to the company’s long-held belief in building a worldwide chain of stores all looking essentially the same, and the appearance of a different Starbucks in London follows trial runs in America, where the company has already tested new-look cafes which it has opened under different names.
Starbucks is now to re-furbish up to a hundred British stores, and its first is in London’s Conduit Street. However, the appearance of this one shows a clear influence of the leading modern coffee houses in nearby Soho, with the use of much plain wood, and matching earthy, rustic colours… and, indeed no trace of the company’s usual corporate branding. Indeed, outside the Conduit St store, even Starbucks logo is in brown, instead of the usual green.
The redesign is led by a ‘senior vice-president, global design’, who says that the décor in several of the chain’s British stores is already ten years old. In America, some Starbucks stores were fitted out thirty years ago and are even more overdue for a change.
The global designer says: “We are bringing in the community, and we are looking at the building and surrounding architecture of each store. We want a connectivity between the interior and exterior of stores and a sense of neighbourhood. Each store will have the DNA of Starbucks but each will be different. Every neighbourhood has a history, and we want to tell the story through design.”
The next Starbucks store to be redesigned is on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Coffee Republic chain has hired Conran and Partners to advise them on new café design.
By Ian Boughton