Belgian shoe chain Torfs is launching a brand new concept for its city stores: larger, with more space for fashion and a great deal of attention for sustainability. The most striking element, however, is the strong focus on the youngest customers.
In all major cities
The first branch of the new Torfs concept opened on Wednesday morning in the city centre of Ghent, where the shoe retailer moved its existing store to significantly larger premises covering 450 sqm. "Two years ago, we could not have done this, but now that rent for units are falling, these kinds of premises are becoming realistic for us", CEO Wouter Torfs explained.
The retailer is also planning to open city centre stores elsewhere: next week Torfs will move its shoe store in the centre of Leuven to new premises of 500 sqm. The opening is followed by further openings or refurbishments, including in the city centre of Antwerp. Even though the most important growth for the chain comes from out-of-town stores, the company continues to invest in city centres. "City stores are still about 30 % behind in terms of turnover, but we believe in a turnaround. We want to be present in all major cities at prime locations with this concept", says the CEO.
Interaction and experience
Torfs developed this new concept in collaboration with Wave of Engagement and Dobit. The store has a new, bright look with high ceilings, white walls and white shelving. The range has been expanded: Torfs now has the space to offer a wide fashion range in a city store for the first time. Up until now, that was only possible in the chain's larger stores. This should further boost turnover.
Particularly noteworthy is the strong focus on children in the new store concept. "We want to involve children through the entire buying process in a playful manner", says Marketing Director Lise Conix. "For example, we do not just measure their feet, but we measure the child from head to toe." Children are then given a card with a symbol that helps them find the correct sizes in the store. There is also a testing trail to try out shoes, an opportunity to take a picture once the shoes have been approved, and a gift at the checkout counter. The little ones can hand in their old shoes for recycling at an impressive machine with a large spinning wheel. The retailer claims to be gaining a significant market share in children's shoes.