VF, a global leader of iconic apparel, footwear and accessories brands including The North Face, Vans, Timberland and Dickies, today opens Axtell Soho, London, marking a new era of business success and investment for the company.
VF has invested in a multi-year lease of Axtell Soho in London as a demonstration of its commitment to continued growth in London and the UK. The new hub, which will be a key support to its European operations, is an awe-inspiring brand immersion showcase, designed to bring the most advanced and innovative expression of its iconic brands to life, strengthen trade relationships and fuel growth in the UK.
Martino Scabbia Guerrini, VF EMEA group president, comments: “At VF, elevated design is at the heart of our brands’ strategy and product creation. This, along with our company’s purpose and commitment to sustainability, drives all our business choices. Having our experiential brand showcase for retail customers in the centre of one of the top fashion capitals in the world will help our brands to innovatively develop and support our company growth in the years to come, including recruitment of the industry’s best talent.”
Located in the heart of Soho, home of creativity, fashion and shopping, the building is a feat of high-spec, sustainable design and craftmanship combined with innovative technology and brand experience. Axtell Soho has office spaces, dedicated brand experience floors for Timberland, The North Face, Vans and Kipling, as well as a showcase space for Napapijri, Dickies, Eastpak, Icebreaker, Smartwool, and Altra. It also has a digital innovation and design studio on the sixth floor and a landscaped roof top garden.
The digitally connected, intelligent building features custom video walls and cinema surround-sound to immerse customers in the unique vision of each brand. Avatar-based virtual mannequins showcase key seasonal looks in 3D, which are designed to manufacturable specifications – evolving VF’s go-to-market and supply chain process. Users can even use the touch screen displays to change the lighting and visualise the products in different scenarios, inspiring them to place wholesale orders from the interactive digital selling display stations.
The interior design and experiential brand showcase has been designed for VF by the Design Laboratory who used a User and Narrative design-centred approach to deliver an augmented experiential space that will inspire, educate and engage VF brands’ business partners.
London remains VF’s focus as a megacity for expansion in the UK, which has been the case since the company opened its first retail store on Carnaby Street in the 2003. The UK’s importance is such that it is now the number one market for VF across the EU, accounting for approximately 20% [approx. GBP 500 million] of all EU revenue, with an announced 5 years plan target to 2021 of 23%. Specifically, London represents 20% of total revenue in UK for VF with Vans leading the business.
VF’s presence spans 57 VF-owned and operated stores in UK, 20 of which are in London. The company has 1,820 associates in the UK, approximately 1,000 of which are employed in retail, with 240 operating out of the capital.
Axtell Soho, which has a strong heritage in fashion and retail dating back to 1929, is ideally located in proximity to VF brand stores on Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street to facilitate the interaction with, and the education of, VF’s retail store teams so to elevate engagement with end consumers.
The Axtell Soho building is owned by Estates & Agency Group and has been renovated by London-based architectural studio Darling Associates to retain and enhance its original Art Deco charm. The building spans more than 16,000 square feet across six floors and was designed with sustainability in mind. By improving the performance of the building’s façade and implementing intelligent future-proofing, the new space is both adaptable and resilient. The reduced impact of construction and improvements in the lifetime in-use efficiency of the building, has seen Axtell Soho receive a BREEAM Very Good rating.
John Rosefield, Estates & Agency group chairman, said “We are delighted to have VF as our tenants, making a real contribution to the creative industries in Soho.”