A CITY centre shop gutted by fire is to reopen as a flagship “next generation” concept store.
Thomas Cook has announced plans to open its new hi-tech Hanover Street shop by the end of July in time for the Festival.
The blaze last July began on the ground floor and quickly spread through the four-storey building, leading to the closure of the neighbouring Yorkshire Building Society.
But the company has said they are going ahead with what is now going to be a new style of Thomas Cook store – with retail experts claiming it showcases what the high street retailer of tomorrow will look like. Customers will be able to research and book holidays by tablet, consulting in-store staff, watching a video or checking in on Facebook to qualify for a special offer.
Thomas Cook retail director Joanna Wild said: “The new store will be more Apple than travel, using technology and techniques championed by iconic hi-tech brands.
“We know that an annual holiday is precious to many, and the new store further illustrates our efforts to inspire customers and help make the purchase process as enjoyable and efficient as possible.”
The concept store will be the firm’s first in Scotland following on from the opening of a similar shop in Leeds last December.
Retail expert Graeme Birse, of the Edinburgh Napier Business School said: “Certainly in retail we are seeing an increasing trend towards online and incorporating video and social media. Much similar to the Apple model these will be the shops of the future and we are seeing more and more of them.”
Asked why consumers would choose to visit shops to surf the internet rather than do so from the comfort of their own home, he added: “Shops can create mood.
“I imagine Thomas Cook are relying on the impulse factor, people might be out on the town with their friends or shopping with their partner and pop in. It’s a new way of shopping.” The travel firm have cited research which indicates that 46 per cent of holidaymakers still want to deal ‘face-to-face with an expert before confirming the booking of their holiday’.
Joanne Wild added: “The concept store is all about enabling our customers to book exactly what they want how they want, whether it’s via the new technologies that will be available to all, or the human touch where expert advice is on-hand.” Last month we revealed how technology giant Apple had begun recruiting for jobs within its own flagship Princes Street store.
Rumours have circulated for months that the former Burger King site in the East End was to be taken over by the company, but Apple itself has remained tight-lipped about its plans.
However, an ad for jobs within its soon-to-open Edinburgh store has now been posted on its website.