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Deceptively Independent
Deceptively Independent

Retail is a cutthroat business. With margins under increasing pressure from competition on all sides, and consumers spoilt for choice, retailers are looking for any opportunity to carve out a slightly bigger piece of the pie for themselves. Apparently in the case of leading UK book store chain ‘Waterstones’, the strategy involves blatant deception of the consumer. Or does it?


According to Boutique Magazine, Waterstones is accused of opening three new stores under different individual names, with each store enjoying the kind of interior décor one might expect to find in independent, ‘mom and pop’ corner shop-type stores – not in a corporate retail conglomerate. The three stores are located in Rye, Southwold and Harpenden and apparently have nothing more than a simple hand-written note in the window identifying the store owners’ true identity.


Critics say that Waterstones is guilty of subterfuge while local businesses say they would have opposed the opening of the stores had they known who was behind them. According to local independent retail lobby group ‘The Restaurant Club’, consumers have ‘an increased appetite for a more personalised (shopping) experience’ and would rather support independent retailers than corporate chains. Waterstones obviously knows this – hence the rebranding of these stores – but says it has done nothing wrong. On the contrary, it says it is adding value to local small town high streets by fashioning its stores after neighbouring shopfronts.


This is nothing completely unfamiliar to the local retail scene here in South Africa. The Tigers Eye group for instance has several uniquely branded, uniquely merchandised stores throughout the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, all owned by them. The strategy being that the visiting tourist will purchase from each store as he/she makes their way through the mall and therefore Tigers Eye has several opportunities to make a sale off each tourist passing through. The boundary between deception and business strategy is even more blurred when you consider local industry giants such as Clicks, which also owns Musica and the Body Shop. It’s simply not unusual for a consumer to visit and purchase from several unique stores all to the benefit of one owner.


With all of that said, one might ask why all of this is relevant to a blog on a shopfitting industry website? Well, because what all of this proves is just how important the role of shopfitting is in creating a unique store identity. Shopfitting is truly one of the most effective means by which to differentiate yourself from your competition and by using the Tubal C Display System, you’ll be giving yourself an edge that will continue to pay dividends throughout the life of your store. By incorporating our range of display systems and accessories, you will be able to fashion a store design that is truly, uniquely yours and which fits your unique budget. Speak to us about your dream store today! Mail us on or make use of our Live Chat facility during office hours. Tubal C, Shopfitting Made Easy!