New L’Occitane flagship concept unveiled

French-headquartered, Hong Kong-listed L’Occitane en Provence, opens a world-first concept store in Canada tomorrow which it says offers an immersive digital experience and connected shopping model.

Two new L’Occitane flagships based on the concept will open in London’s Regent Street and on the Champs Elysee in Paris later this month, with the format to be rolled out globally from next year.

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The skincare, body care and fragrance retailer has completely redesigned its 1600sqft (150sqm) Canadian store, located in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto.

Inspired by the land and culture of Provence, guests are invited to take a multi-sensory journey, setting what the company describes as “a new standard for the L’Occitane in-store customer experience”.

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“Visiting this store will be an experience like no other. Upon entering, guests will feel a sense of wonderment – they will be transported to the lavender fields of Provence, learn about L’Occitane’s expertise in the art of extraction, and visit the land of Corsica, home of the powerful Immortelle flower,” said Paul Blackburn, North American VP of concept design, construction & merchandising.

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“Behind the striking external glass facade, a curved video wall immediately attracts the attention of passersby. Below this eye-catching feature is an immersive digital experience inside a pair of suspended capsules. Within each capsule, a true story unfolds before your eyes combining imagery, scent, light and sound for a truly sensorial experience.”

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L’Occitane says the Toronto redesign is part of a larger expansion and refocus of store concept innovation from the brand. The company will pursue a ‘glocal’ retail strategy, in which it will tailor the customer experience with innovative and personalised services across the globe, while adapting the concepts according to local market specifications.

The Regent Street store will be the largest L’Occitane store in the world, covering 6450sqft (600sqm), with specialised features to evoke all five human senses and a ‘test and play’ experience.

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“A visceral experience”

L’Occitane commissioned brand creative and experience agency School House to create the new design.

“Journeying through Provence is a visceral experience that changes something within you,” says Christopher Skinner, founder and principal of School House. “In 1976, Oliver Baussan experienced a connection to Provence’s land and culture, which he distilled from lavender and rosemary into essential oils. In the same way, we approached Yorkdale as an artistic expression of Provence, served through tactile and digital brand experiences that spark a sense of wonderment.”

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Described as “a celebration of wonderment and discovery,” the Yorkdale boutique has multiple unique features for an immersive and connected shopping experience. An exterior facade stretching nearly seven metres hosts a curved video wall two metres high, drawing guests in-store. Upon entering, they are greeted by yellow glass archways, inspired by Provencal architecture. Key features include an interactive ‘skincare bistro’, and large hand-cream column wrapped in communal seating.

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“Provence is brought to life through an elevated shopping experience that channels the elements of earth, fire, air and water,” the company’s Canadian spokespeople say in a statement. “The elements are expressed through creative design features, heightening the senses and inviting exploration.

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“Earth is cultivated with a flooring of natural stone and a botanical ceiling installation of a ‘land reversed’. Water is cultivated with automated rain shower sinks, encouraging test-and-play with products beneath showers from hanging illuminated arched domes. Fire is channelled through a radiating sun installation set within the ceiling plane above. Lastly, air is cultivated into fragrance clouds, creating a unique testing experience for fragrances.”

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The L’Occitane team has also worked to ensure the store positively impacts the environment. All lighting will be 100 per cent LED, and, for the first time in North America, an in-store bottling recycling program in partnership with Terracycle will be offered. The stone flooring and countertops are made of recycled natural stone aggregates and contain pre-consumer recycled content. The yellow arches are made from co-polyester resin, incorporating 40 per cent pre-consumer recycled content, compatible with one of the largest post-consumer recycle streams.

L’Occitane Yorkdale, opens on December 7, 2018.

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