Farrow and Ball is a luxury paint and wallpaper manufacturer with around 40 showrooms globally, from London to Paris to New York. All its paints are still mixed in a factory in Dorset where its original founders John Farrow and Richard Ball were based, a nod to its roots and heritage that sets them aside from many of its competitors.
The first project we worked on with Farrow & Ball was a grand, bespoke lighting vision, creating colour walls using LED tape and extrusion to create a stunning HALO effect. One of the most interesting and exciting projects we’ve worked on, the installation was a great success and off the back of that we were invited to work with them across many other stores, in excess of 30 at the time of writing with more planned for the future.
There’s a common theme with a lot of our clients. We do a piece of work. They love it. We’re invited to do more. So why do people love working with us? Well, we love what we do, we pride ourselves on delivery exactly to spec, on time, and we deliver results. Probably that.
Burberry is a high-end fashion retailer which flies the flag for British fashion globally. The unmistakable and iconic Burberry check can be found adorning the likes of Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss. The business started in 1856 with one man, Thomas Burberry, a 21-year-old former draper’s apprentice, and a shop in Basingstoke. His reputation for quality soon grew and by the early part of the 20th century the business was sought out by the armed forces – working with the war office to design clothing for army officers in the trenches (the very first “trench coat” was designed by the Burberry), and bespoke aviation garments for the air force.
Today they have nearly 500 global stores, a turnover of more than £400 million and a range of products from perfume to cosmetics and beyond; truly a fashion powerhouse. As you’d expect from such a prestigious brand, aesthetics are important. Since we started working with them in 2012, we have taken on a multitude of specific, bespoke briefs with a very quick turnaround time. Thanks to our successful delivery of products (we’ve never missed a deadline remember?) we have been offered more and more work by the Burberry in stores across the UK and Europe.
Trespass, an outdoor sports/activity retailer, was created in 1984, a subsidiary of Jacobs and Turner Ltd., which specialised in technical workwear. Utilising the same waterproof, windproof and ultra warm technology, the new company aimed its garments to the high street, focussing on skiwear and camping accessories. They expanded their product lines and began to open stores in the 90s, a handful at first, before a huge expansion push between 2003-2006. They now have over 150 stores worldwide, as far afield as America and Asia.
We first met with Trespass at the beginning of their big expansion push in 2003 where they were looking for a lighting supplier who could handle the capacity they were after, and also deliver on time every time. After successful delivery during that period, we have maintained a great relationship with the brand, taking on their entire maintenance supply since 1998 across their entire portfolio of stores.
The stylish and affordable fashion chain has been a part of the British high street for over 60 years. Its first store opened in London in 1948, set up by Bernard Lewis and his brothers under the name of Lewis Separates, and the chain is still privately owned by the Lewis family to this day. Six decades later, River Island has over 300 stores worldwide.
Our relationship with them started back in 1993 with one light fitting. Some twenty years down the line and we now manage all their lighting requirements: technical/decorative front of house, back of house, manufacturer special one-off pieces to specific design requirements, management of lighting maintenance spares, the whole kit and kaboodle. In terms of aftercare, we offer constant evaluation of their costs and their energy plan to ensure they’re getting the best deal possible.
In short, we have taken away lighting as an issue for them, both in the UK and across the world in the Middle East, Australasia and South America, leaving them to focus on what they do best.
A new client for 2014, Smiggle is an Australian stationery supplier with a focus on school-aged children. Established in 2003 in Melbourne by entrepreneurs Stephen Meurs and Peter Pausewang, the business was an immediate hit with kids attracted to the bright colours, funky designs and sense of fun they brought to the stationery world. The designs and products weren’t your boring old biros of yesteryear; they were full of life and personality.
Their stores are no different; each has a very specific aesthetic, one which exudes fun and vibrancy. With the push into the UK market, the Smiggle team were very exact about what they wanted. In the space of 10 years, the duo had opened over 100 stores in Australia alone, not to mention expanding to New Zealand and Singapore. They knew what worked for them, and they gave us a very tight spec to work to. Which of course we did. For each of the 15 store openings in the UK we visited every single site on handover to direct the lighting aspect of things, offering a bespoke and personalised service that few of our competitors can.
An icon in sportswear retail and beyond, JD Sports has been a part of our high street for some 35 years. The brand was founded by John Wardle and David Makin (hence the JD) in 1981, operating out of a single store in Bury, Greater Manchester.
By 1989, it had opened its first Oxford Street store and by 2003, there were over 200 JDs across the UK thanks to its acquisition of First Sport from Blacks Leisure Group. In fact, the history of the JD Group is marked by prudent acquisitions: Chausport, Duffer of St George, Canterbury, Kooga, Champion Sports, Black Leisure Group itself and Bank Fashion (another client or ours).
When JD bought out Bank Fashion in 2009, we were unsure whether our relationship with them would continue. Luckily the JD Group were pleased with our approach and offered us opportunities across their portfolio including Size, Open, Tessuti, Ultimate Outdoors, JD Pro, JD Gym and Cloggs, a massive coup for us. JD are hugely cost driven, and we successfully oversaw their progression from discharge lighting to LED, dealing closely with their Group Energy & Environmental Dept.
Pronounced ‘shoe’, Schuh is a footwear specialist, founded by Sandy Alexander, which began its life in Edinburgh in 1981. The Managing Director, a former butcher’s boy by the name of Colin Temple, joined as a merchandiser in 1988 when Schuh was owned by the listed retail group, Goldberg’s. When Goldberg’s went into administration in 1990 after over-expanding Temple was part of a six-person management buyout team which aimed to save Schuh.
By going back to basics and focusing on the core of what made them great the management team were able to turn around the fortunes of the business and now, it has grown to incorporate 100 stores in the UK and Ireland, its continued growth bucking the trend of many high-street retailers. In 2014, they opened a brand new £7million, 245,000 sq ft distribution centre in West Lothian.
We’ve had a relationship with Schuh since 1999, and our first job with them was the manufacture of a bespoke twin spotlight pendants. Since then, as with so many of our clients, they’ve entrusted more and more work with us over the years. We now handle store lighting design across the entire company.
If we’re going to talk about venerable clients, Notcutts are one of the oldest, most well-established businesses we work with. Founder Roger Crompton Notcutt purchased the land their headquarters now sits on back in 1897, originally using the site in Ipswich as a nursery. That nursery grew and grew, and the Notcutts brand now employs over 1000 staff across 18 huge garden centres from stretching from Peterborough to Tunbridge Wells, Nottingham to St Albans.
From its first year in 1897, the nursery was winning awards for its produce, the first a Silver Medal for an exhibit of Apples and Pears at the RHS September Crystal Palace Show. Since that point, Notcutts regularly exhibited at horticultural shows up and down the UK, winning 50 gold medals in total at RHS Chelsea.
Garden centres tend to grow *ahem* organically, so their lighting needs are very much ad-hoc and disparate. Since we started working with them in 2013, we have offered rationalised design and structured solutions of, initially, one store. We’re now rolling out this solution to two other sites in multiple phases with more likely over the next couple of years.
Perhaps the nicest smelling shop on the high street, certainly the most pungent, Lush is the handmade cosmetics store which struck gold in a big way. Founded in 1994 by husband and wife duo Mark and Mo Constantine, the company was ahead of the ethical curve in many ways, capturing the changing tide of public opinion towards the origin of ingredients and the way things are made. The company hand-makes all its wares, refuses to use animal by-products and is vehemently opposed to animal testing, instead using volunteers to test their products.
It might come as little surprise that Mark Constantine was once an employee of that other famously ethical cosmetics high street stalwart, The Body Shop. Since the first Lush store opened in Poole, the couple have opened over 500 stores in 51 countries and have expanded into spas, hair salons and more. Both Mo and Mark received OBEs in 2010 for services to the beauty industry.
As you might expect from a company with such a focus on environmental friendliness, they were passionate about reducing their carbon footprint any way they could. As such, we helped improve lighting and reduce energy costs and expanded their green credentials. In 2010, we helped kit out their smaller trading floors and stores with fittings but have since fitted larger, multi-floor stores and helped light their salons, spas and party rooms.
Cloggs shoe shop was set up in 1979 by Russell Thomas in Oasis Market – an indoor shopping centre in Birmingham. They were an early adopter of online retail, setting up their retail website in 1998. Since then they have stocked over 100 brands including Dr Martens, Clarks, Kickers and Timbaland, selling over 100,000 items of footwear. Whilst predominantly an online concern, the business did open a physical store in 2009 in Birmingham’s Bullring before, sadly, going into administration in 2013.
JD Group bought the company, and they are now very much back in business online and working their way back onto the high street again. For a business who have been burnt before, naturally budget has been a huge driving factor when delivering the right lighting solution. And the new owners wanted a real brand change, the concepts and designs had to offer something different.
We worked very closely with them on the first store re-opening, a new shop in Shrewsbury, and we are working with them on another two new stores planned for this year.
We serve a lot of prestigious clients here at Prolight, but few quite as longstanding as C&H Fabrics. Founded way back in April 1933 by C.W. Hamblin and Mr H. Closs (don’t forget the Mr), the crafts and homeware store initially established itself as the go-to place for dress fabrics in the 30s, the company’s sole focus in the early years. The art of dressmaking dwindled in the 60s, 70s and 80s, however, as off-the-peg clothing from across the world flooded the world of retail.
C&H made the decision to explore other markets, aiming to specialise in Haberdashery, Crafts, and Yarns, and Furnishing Fabrics and related products. This change of tack led to them buying up bigger stores to cope with the influx of new stock. 2,000sq ft units were sold off, replaced by a chain of 20,000sq ft stores which could cope with the 30,000 items of stock C&H began to stock.
We were referred to C&H by a shop fit contractor in 2009. He had been impressed by our work, our delivery and our aftercare for another client he had worked on, and the team at C&H were interested to see what we could do for them. They liked what we had to say, and we have since fitted nine huge stores for them across the South East of England.
Mountain Warehouse is a high street outdoor clothing and equipment chain catering to hikers, campers, skiers, cyclists and walkers across the UK and mainland Europe. Its history is short but varied. Founder Mark Neale opened the first shop in 1997, a unit in Covent Garden. The Mountain Warehouse stores were originally founded as retail partners of Karrimor, the global outdoor clothing brand, but following a series of mergers, buyouts and other boring management things, Mark emerged as the majority shareholder, personally owning 85% of the brand.
Under his guidance, Mountain Warehouse has grown, and rapidly, with 200 stores across the UK and Europe. This rapid growth means their lighting requirements were essential and very much bespoke. We worked with them to design and deliver solutions to numerous sites of all shapes and sizes at once, all the while maintaining a consistent aesthetic across the board.
Not only that, we worked with them to improve their green credentials and reduce maintenance costs by helping to shift away from conventional light sources to LED products. A new client for 2014 and so far, so good.