The Bookseller can exclusively reveal the first image of Foyles’ new Birmingham store as the countdown to its opening begins in earnest [below].
The second of the company’s shops to open outside London, the 4,300 sq ft Foyles Birmingham will be a “model store for the future”, according to c.e.o. Paul Currie.
It will open in just over three weeks’ time (24th September) when the new Grand Central Birmingham Station opens to the public.
An artist’s impression of the outlet by design consultancy lustedgreen—the same agency Foyles worked with for its Westfield Stratford City and London Waterloo Station branches, as well as for The Café at its Charing Cross Road flagship—reveals Foyles’ signature glass exterior with a wide window display area and a floor-to- ceiling display screen to the left of the entrance, which book jackets can be advertised on. New titles will welcome customers into the store, with a large children’s section drawing people to the back.
Computer-generated image of Foyles' new Birmingham store
Family audiences are central to the vision for Foyles in Birmingham, a spokesperson for the company said, with children’s books a particular focus. To that end, Cressida Cowell, author of film-boosted children’s series How to Train Your Dragon, will open the new store’s children’s department officially on Saturday 17th October.
Currie said: “Our new store at Grand Central Birmingham will showcase our vision of what excellent customer-centred service can be. We will be launching a number of exciting new initiatives embracing the core values of Foyles heritage. We look forward to welcoming new Foyles customers in the Midlands next month.”
However, Currie would not reveal some of the more experiential elements of the new store until its opening day.
Foyles Birmingham will be managed by Steven Harmon, who has previously worked at Superdry, Hotter Shoes and most recently stationery specialist Blott. The management team at Foyles’ head office was “impressed” by Harmon’s “commitment to the customer experience and passion for exceptional service”, the spokesperson said, adding that Foyles Birmingham would employ “at least 10 booksellers”.
The upcoming opening of Foyles Birmingham has coincided with a reshuffle of roles and responsibilities in the company’s management team. Siôn Hamilton, retail operations director, will become Foyles’ trading director for all sales channels. His focus will be on creating new trading opportunities and widening the chain’s customer-facing and sales-generating divisions. “Siôn’s appointment will ensure that we have continuity in our sales strategy, but it will also enable new and creative opportunities to be developed in our new omnichannel world,” Currie said.
Janette Cross, currently manager of Foyles Charing Cross Road, has been promoted to head of customer experience, covering the entire business. “This is a major initiative and reflects the commitment and focus we are giving to a vital element of our business,” Currie said.
Meanwhile, Stephen Clarke has been appointed general manager of the Charing Cross Road store; Ed Woods has been made deputy general manager of the flagship; and Joana Espirito Santo had been appointed promotions manager and head of retail standards. Drew Hunt, meanwhile, has been appointed assistant buyer. Alongside fellow assistant buyer Gary Powell, he will be driving a greater focus on promotion planning and new title optimisation, enabling the business to be “smarter and more successful in its implementation of promotions, new title planning and development across all channels”. Currie said:
“By implementing these changes, we are demonstrating our commitment to developing talent in our business and preparing for the future. Above all, I know that the core to any successful business is its people and I am delighted to be working with such great talent at Foyles.”
The opening of the Birmingham store will bring the total number of shops in Foyles’ portfolio to six, with four in London and one further outlet in Bristol.
The new £600m Grand Central Birmingham—built on the site of what was New Street Station—is projected to be one of the country’s busiest train stations outside London. It will contain nearly 500,000 sq ft of shopping and dining space, anchored by a 250,000 sq ft John Lewis store and more than 60 “premium retailers” and “quality cafés”.