Sandals opened its first retail shop in South Kensington this week, promising “the door will always be open to our agent partners”.
Cutting the ribbon with chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart, UK managing director Karl Thompson said: “We’re going to be getting even more agents out to our resorts in the Caribbean this year, but for those who can’t travel, then this store gives us another way to immerse them in our product.
“The door will always be open to them to benefit from a training aspect, and we’ll do a mixture of formalised training sessions organised by our BDMs, or if an independent just wants to send someone along, then they will be more than welcome.”
He insisted: “Far from taking business away from our trade partners, we believe this shop will help them to sell more.”
Thompson added that the store and training opportunities would not just benefit agents in London and the South East.
“We will drive agents down for special training events from Yorkshire, Manchester, Birmingham, Scotland – wherever! They can come and learn about our resorts, or sit with a wedding co-ordinator and feel the fabrics and smell the flowers. I truly believe this will help conversions.”
Thompson added: “This store is also about getting new customers for Sandals. People who wouldn’t have thought about the brand previously, who might now be convinced once they come in see and experience the quality.”
He said the store and the new resort openings in the Caribbean should both contribute to more growth in 2016-17.
“We have grown the business by 50% in the last two years and there’s no reason why we can’t do that again. Having this shop will help us reach our new targets.
“It’s a massive brand statement about our intent. The market is always challenging but we are doing incredibly well. This is all about the belief we have in the market moving forward.
“The Caribbean is still the most exotic and aspirational place in the world. We have achieved tremendous growth there over the last couple of years and we intend to do a lot more with this store.
Stewart added: “I never thought, in my wildest dreams, this shop, showroom, training venue or whatever it may be, could be so spectacular, so dramatic, and be able to project the Caribbean so perfectly to our partners, our agents and our customers.
“When I walk in and see the imagery, the tech and the videos and the design, it brings me back home – and that’s the feeling we wanted this shop to convey to people.
“You can really see yourself swimming in the sea, or getting married on a beach. This store will represent Sandals very well and it will represent the Caribbean region very well. It’s as good a design project as I’ve ever seen and will make a massive impact.”
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