How Can Small and Medium-Sized Retailers or Brands Source Globally?

3rd Aug 2017


In this blog, our Account Director Ben, and Design Manager Krish, look into the impact of sourcing globally and how businesses can achieve this without it being a frightening prospect.


We understand that what we do can often be viewed as the not so fun and boring part of a creative project, however, we're not just about technical drawings!

Working closely with the brilliantly talented design agency WDC Creative, we have delivered so much more than just a new and exciting environment for Ellis Brigham. For those that may not be well versed with Ellis Brigham, the company is a family owned, mountain sports retailer and it's the go-to specialist with 27 stores across the UK.

Even though they are one of the UK's largest and most successful retailers in this area, understandably they don't have a vast head office with a design and property support team - but this isn't to be seen as a negative. That's where we came in, with our services that go well beyond design and development that you may well know us for.

WDC designed an innovative new concept for their flagship store in Covent Garden. The design focused on Ellis Brigham's heritage, the flexibility of merchandising product, a store layout that could accommodate frequent changes, and the rugged nature of mountain sports. We were involved right from the early stages of the creative process; our involvement was not to hinder the creative side but to support WDC. With our manufacturing detail and operational knowledge, technical and design resources, and materials library, it was a creative match indeed.

We then developed the concept - producing our legendary technical drawings - to manufacture and support the installation of the trial, however, our role in the project did not end here. Ellis Brigham were so pleased with the collaborative outcome in Covent Garden that a refurbishment of further stores was on the agenda, and quickly approaching.

We needed a shop-fit that could handle our huge range of diverse products, whilst showcasing the features of individual items, highlighting key brands and making the shopping experience as immersive and informative as possible. What we have delivered is an exceedingly versatile display system that caters for everything we sell from carabiners to snowboards, from sleeping bags to premium ski jackets.

 Robert Brigham, Ellis Brigham Managing Director


With Ellis Brigham looking to refurbish further stores by introducing the new concept around the UK, the next challenge was to source the best manufacturers. Understandably Ellis Brigham were keen to get the best price and quality possible but, being a family business, the company had little experience of procuring and conducting business with suppliers overseas.

Yes, there is the option of tendering in the UK with the usual suspects who, in most instances procure in China and include a higher margin to the purchased price. The downside to taking this route was that Ellis Brigham would be sacrificing an element of control and paying for a margin on a margin. Now, we simply don't see that as a good move.

So this where we came in, as mentioned earlier. Ellis Brigham does not have a procurement team focused on retail shop fittings, therefore, working as their own purchasing team, we travelled and sourced manufacturers directly in the Far East, and tendered the project on their behalf.

We did not just find the best price, but we vetted the suitability of the suppliers and their quality before awarding the work to find the best value manufacturer. As some of you may be aware, we have no favourites and treat every project differently, so we had a completely unbiased approach.

Our involvement carried on during manufacture, from independent and locally supported quality control visits, to our project management teams from the UK travelling to the Far East to enable a smooth, hassle free and precise delivery. Another area where we provided guidance was regarding the financials of the project and the complexities of importing from China.

So, what did this do for Ellis Brigham? (We hear you cry, get to the point you two!)

Well, on a complete refit programme of their stores, they saved 50% over the current shop-fit and saved 20% just by not going through a third party. Ellis Brigham were also able to keep control of their concept throughout the whole process with us looking after the concerns of purchasing directly from China - they had achieved complete autonomy.

WDC's involvement did not just end with the concept; they supported Ellis Brigham through the trial stores and more importantly, they acted as their property planning team - visiting refit sites and producing store plans of the new stores.

And what does this story prove?

To be honest, you don't need to have over 1000 shops or ahead office the size of a small town to purchase directly from the Far East and support your stores! It also shows that WDC Creative is not just about the beautiful blue-sky thinking of conceptual design, and of course how Quantum 4 are not just about technical drawings.

It is a much bigger picture.

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