Hospitality is going to lead the renaissance of retail in our towns and cities at all ends of the spectrum, from mainstream, everyday shops to high-end, global luxury brands. Good hospitality is the art of looking after people; it represents an opportunity for a retailer to connect with a broader range of customers and to welcome them as guests.

At Burberry’s first ‘social retail’ store in Shenzhen, China, the Thomas’s café is proving to be the most popular element of the store. The first Thomas’s was opened in the Regent Street flagship in 2015 to give customers the chance to enjoy the world of Burberry in a more social environment, according to former CCO and CEO, Christopher Bailey. It’s also an opportunity for a wider spectrum of customers to buy into a luxury brand at an accessible, experiential level.

Gucci’s Gucci Osteria, now in LA as well as Florence, showcases the culinary genius of three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura.

Tiffany’s Blue Box Café in Harrods is open all day – including for breakfast – and brings a new energy to the fine jewellery department. The concept has also launched in Hong Kong, China, New York and LA.
Browns Fashion’s new Brook Street store in the heart of Mayfair seeks to look to the future of retail by giving its customers reasons to visit. Native, a sustainably-led restaurant (and see featured title image) with a courtyard is ideal for outdoor dining.
H&M’s global lifestyle and homewares brand Arket, with sites in South Korea, northern Europe and the UK, includes a vegetarian café in its stores in a nod to changing social attitudes.
In some respects there is nothing new here beyond a recognition that food has a unique pulling power. Nicole Farhi’s former Bond Street store housed Nicole’s in the basement, a restaurant and bar that was always popular with the fashion pack. Topshop’s old flagship at Oxford Circus played host to a Benugo café restaurant in the basement and in 2019, was granted an alcohol licence.
Whether it’s to encourage a broader audience to experience a luxury brand or to tempt shoppers to linger for longer within an environment, we can see a bright future for food in fashion.

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