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wdl was first engaged by Hamleys in 2000 to completely remodel the interior space of their world famous, seven-storey toy store. This remagicalisation included an overhead model railway, a talking book, animated displays and demo areas. A technically complex project, it involved significant structural changes, a complete new store layout and fire strategy.More than 50 franchisees & suppliers needed to be refurbished, renewed, relocated or incorporated into the overall design.

The project was carried out in several phases, by half a floor and a floor-by-floor basis. The store continued to trade throughout. It was imperative that we adhered to the strict contract timescale and that the contractor remained invisible at all times. Noise and dust could not be tolerated; material deliveries needed to co-ordinate with overnight stock deliveries. Electric, sprinklers and fire alarms couldn’t be turned off and fire exits needed to be kept clear at all times. Removals revealed up to four layers of flooring and wall linings in some areas, where previous fit-outs had taken the easy route under similar circumstances.

The central fifth floor area was removed, creating an atrium above the escalator tower, with a balcony seating area for a new café. All eight existing escalators were removed in one operation, starting on a Saturday night after closing Regent Street and continuing through to Sunday lunch. All were taken away and refurbished, before returning in the same way two weeks later, on eight articulated wagons and repositioned using trolleys and block and tackle. The escalators were re installed in an X pattern to speed up customer circulation within the shop.

The entire project was televised for a Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall TV documentary. In February 2012 wdl was again engaged by Hamleys for a further £4m refurbishment project. This major revamp incorporated all seven retail floors of the world-famous toy shop and included works to upgrade the back of house areas. The project, completed in June, was carefully planned to allow the shop to stay open throughout its first refurbishment in 12 years and to be finished before the arrival in the city of an expected 5.5 million visitors a day for the Olympics.

The refurbishment involved the repositioning of the majority of franchisees & suppliers in line with modern consumer trends. The stairways were redesigned in order to improve customer flow and allow short-stay shoppers to buy and go. On the remodeled fifth floor, featuring a footfall-driving Lego area, Hamleys unveiled Scrumpalicious: an own-brand sweet shop with products from around the globe. “We continue to enjoy a successful relationship with wdl which has now lasted in excess of ten years. During this time they have worked with us on many varied projects both large and small bringing to each professionalism and commitment allied to a determination to deliver everything that is unique and magical about the Hamleys brand. We look forward to a continuing successful relationship for the next ten years and beyond.”

Designed by Chute Gerdeman
David Meekings, Head of Strategic Development, The Hamleys Group

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