The new Marks & Spencer.

A brand-new branch of Marks & Spencer has opened in Clapham Junction, SW1. This new concept and in-store theatre is vital for the M&S revival and showcases the store’s full range, and includes larger fresh displays, a new bakery and more plastic-free produce.

Customers will find a range of fresh herbs growing in vertical farming units, which includes Italian, Greek and Bordeaux Basils, Mint, Curly Parsley and Mountain Coriander.

They have replaced the old-style counters with great fixtures including M&S wooden tea chests and clear and concise signage.

The abundance of ideas and produce together with the look and feel is reminiscent of a New York grocery store.

Among the artistic touches include a pizza oven, together with a wine and a coffee sampling station.

There are four different types of trolley, and three different types of basket, including a beautiful wicker number that would not look out of place on the arm of an Instagram influencer who wants to let their followers know that yes, they are normal supermarket!

Definitely a must visit for your groceries!

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The British Display Society Network Event

The British Display Society Network/Social Event was held on Monday 30th September at The London College of Fashion.

The evening was a huge success and well supported by VM Students, VM Professionals and Corporate Members, with lots of networking and career opportunities.

It’s rather like the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who you know

A huge thanks to our Guest Speakers, Karl McKeever, Paul Symes and Kerry Meakin, for the superb presentations.

Karl and Paul were awarded “Fellow of The British Display Society” for their work and continued support in the VM Industry which spans many years.

It was great to see the VM tutors and students from our colleges in Ware (Herts Regional College) and Dublin School of Creative Arts, as well as the students from the London College of Fashion.

We also awarded The Hol Group with their Certificate in becoming Corporate Member and we will work closely with them to promote the VM industry.

Many people attending the event also signed up to become Members of The British Display Society.

Although we are based in the UK, our members are Worldwide, so if you work in the VM industry, then log onto our website, click on Membership and find the category that suits your experience and knowledge. Let’s keep VM rocking! Retail is in a tough place at the moment, so we need to stick together!

A huge thanks goes to The London College of Fashion for hosting the event which was a great venue.  For those in the industry who could not attend the event, there will be another event next year.

You can follow The British Display Society on Facebook and Instagram.


Fortnum & Mason Christmas Shop

The Merriest Christmas begins!

In the heart of London’s Piccadilly Fortnum & Mason, this iconic department store, has opened its magical Christmas Shop.

Resplendent in all its glory, Christmas trees are stunningly dressed from the extensive range of sumptuous and opulent richly coloured baubles and other tree decorations, for every home.

Beautiful F&M tree decorations include miniature Royal Blend Tea caddies, Hot Air Balloon, a teapot and not forgetting the famous F&M wicker hamper.

To cater for the tourist market, there is a range of London based plush decorations. No trip to London is complete without a visit to this quintessential English store.

With an array of festive goodies including Christmas Crackers, Advent Calendars, Cards & Gift-wrap, novelty stocking fillers and party games, the store has everything to create the perfect Christmas, with finishing touches to ensure any home come alive with festivity for a truly wonderful Christmas.

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We love animals.

Most of us are huge animal fans, whether it’s our dogs or cats or whether it’s the excitement of seeing a giraffe or lion.

It’s interesting to see how animals (as display props) have moved into our windows and in-store VM sites. As we all know a window concept should be bright, themed and catch the eye of the passing potential customer. Louis Vuitton has certainly captured the imagination with various concepts over the years using dogs through to elephants. Window concepts are retail theatre and given the current economic climate, retailers are using their windows to make us stop and look. Shop windows are the cheapest form of advertising, they are the face of the store, one of the most important elements to any retail business.

The store Level Kids in Dubai used Flamingo’s in their summer scheme while Fortnum & Mason used wicker animals in their windows as well as in-store.  Graphics now include animals which has included a Back To School concept at Paperchase. Sometime ago, I remember seeing a huge whale hung over a china & ceramic table at Anthropologie at their store in Regent Street. That was quite a focal point and something totally unexpected.

While as I was Head of Visual Merchandising at Tangs in Singapore, I devised an Octopus for a concept entitled “I am not a Shoe Addict”.  Made from polystyrene, its feet were actual pairs of shoes and we gave the octopus a winking eye to attract the customers attention.

And naturally when Christmas arrives, this is when the fun starts. Probably the best concept using animals was the redoubtable Selfridges with their Pantomime concept. A brilliant concept and well executed and having worked as a VM Manager at the store, I would expect nothing less.

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Keeping the Visual Merchandising industry alive!

As we are all aware, Retail & Visual Merchandising is going through quite a tough period at the moment in many parts of the world.

The British Display Society has certainly seen many ups and downs in the retail economy over its 70-year history. We are here to ensure Visual Merchandising remains a recognised profession and that VM does not become a dying art, despite the current economic climate.

As well as being Chairman of The British Display Society, I have worked in the VM industry for over 20 years working at stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and as Head of VM at Tangs in Singapore. I have worked on projects in New York, Shanghai, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Switzerland. I now run Creative Download Visual Merchandising Consultancy. (

Established in 1947 the British Display Society was created to encourage and promote the highest standards of Visual Merchandising, Design & Display. Over the years the Society has constantly maintained its professional standing and adapted to changing times within both education and the retail world it seeks to service and enhance.

Former BDS students work throughout the U.K. and indeed throughout the world are now VM Managers, College Lecturers and VM Consultants. Although we are based in the UK, our members are global!

We recently opened a new category “Corporate Members”. This is open to companies that supply goods/services to the Retail & VM trade. This includes Graphics, Signage, Shop Fixtures, Mannequins etc.

Members are backed by the Society’s ‘Pathway to Professional Recognition’ through which affixes are awarded to members work and achievements. I am proud to say that I am a Fellow of The British Display Society and have the affix “FBDS” after my name.

Here’s a selection of photographs. These include: archive photo’s, students work (colleges from Ware UK, Dublin and Singapore) and the BDS team.

Take a look at our website ( and learn more about the BDS, our VM Courses, Membership and Benefits.

I look forward to welcoming you on board, let’s get Visual Merchandising a great industry again!

You can find The British Display Society on Facebook, Linked In and Instagram.


Liberty of London Christmas Shop

Step out of the lift onto the 4th Floor of this iconic London department store and be greeted in true Liberty style with the Christmas Shop. Resplendent in all its glory with its sumptuous and opulent array of decorations and baubles which cater for every style of Christmas.

Fixtures are well merchandised according to style of decoration with baubles on prongs and in crates underneath.  Garlands run along the top are dressed with eucalyptus for that festive smell. Christmas lights adorn the wooden ceiling beams so you can imagine shopping there at dusk.

In addition to this, they have a section for Gift-wrap, Cards, Advent Calendars, Stocking Fillers, Puzzles and Games. Plus, a stunning selection of Food Gifts, perfect for that food lover.

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Autumn 2019

Where has the Summer gone? It only seems like yesterday when we were Spring cleaning of our homes and buying Spring/Summer items to accessorise our homes. Now we see new trends for Autumn and Winter appear in many stores.

The new Autumn/ Winter 2019-2020 colour trends from the runways are available to dazzle. The richness expected from Autumn is definitely on trend, but unexpected shades are changing how people consider their looks for Autumn and Winter. The rich tones, colour blocks and animal prints as what’s to come this season, mixed in with intense hues of berries and bark.

If you’re a fan of Scandinavian design, then this is something you should try and experiment with as woven textures are often used to bring softness into Nordic interiors.

From the rich autumnal shades, on the runway to home interiors and accessories that transfer a ray of summer to the gloomy days of Autumn/Winter.

Here are some of ideas of Autumn home interior merchandising for your store.

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Christmas World at Harrods

Having worked in the VM team at Harrods for many years, I have certainly worked on many Christmas Shop set-ups. It was hard work but good fun working behind the hoarding in order to create this magical department.   In true Harrodian style, the Christmas Shop with lit garlands, sumptuous array of decorations and baubles was the start of the Festive period.

On a visit to the store a few days ago, imagine my disappointment in seeing this year’s Christmas World. In previous years, the department was spread over 2-3 rooms. Now it’s confined into just one room.

While the Christmas trees were beautifully dressed and accessorised, sadly Christmas World was lacking in retail theatre. There was the usual demonstrator selling fake snow by adding water, but where were stunning mini room-sets creating that special ambience? There was one fireplace, but blink and you would miss it

There was an excellent range of baubles and other decorations on the various fixtures and slat wall, but I can’t help thinking, who is going to buy Leopard Print Baubles at £18? Other baubles included Hot Mustard, Coca-Cola, Soya Sauce and a Chinese bauble complete with chop sticks for a staggering £24.

I am not sure who their target market is. With a single Christmas cards at £6 and rolls of gift-wrap at £9, they are certainly not catering for the London tourists.

Now I’m looking forward to the launch of the Christmas Shop at Fortnum & Mason. This will certainly be a visually stunning feast for the eyes.

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Back To School

Although the schools and colleges have recently finish for the summer holidays, retailers should be installing their Back To School windows. As with any concept, VM teams should be thinking and planning 6-9 months in advance.

Here are some excellent inspirational window concepts from my files. Anything from fashion to chairs to over-sized pencils. The concept does not always have to relate to kids and stationery products. Back To School windows should be fun and a riot of colour and props. These windows should be inspiring and creative, as kids hate going back to school!

Given the strength of On-Line shopping retailers, with the help of the VM teams, stores should be stepping up a gear to ensure that all important ‘wow factor’ with creating retail theatre with both the window concepts and in-store presentation. It’s very much like the phrase “You Don’t Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression”

Check out: for further information

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The other side of Retail.

I thought this week’s blog would be slightly different. As you may be aware, I have worked in the Visual Merchandising for over 20 years and my career spans working at stores such as Harrods and Selfridges in London and more recently as Head of Visual Merchandising for Tangs in Singapore.

I am now the founder of Creative Download and over my career I have had the wonderful opportunity to work on some fantastic projects where I have lived and worked in New York, Shanghai, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Switzerland and Singapore. It is quite satisfying to know that retailers outside of the UK, like the British approach to Visual Merchandising and Store Presentation.

I am extremely passionate and enthusiastic about Retail & Visual Merchandising. So much so that someone recently said to me “It will be difficult to find someone more dedicated to the industry than you. You are the Alex Pollizzi (Hotel Inspector) of retail”. I think they may be right

Indeed, I am an avid fan of taking photographs of anything to do with retail, whether it’s good or bad.

So, while we all stop and look at fantastic window displays and VM sites within a store, here is a selection of photographs that show the other side of retail. These images give Retail and Visual Merchandising a bad reputation and it saddens me when I see these sights. Anything from cardboard signs to inappropriately dressed mannequins to boxes of stock and rubbish left on the shop floor!

First impressions are paramount, and customers should not be subjected to seeing these sights. With scenes like this, retailers wonder why business is bad and customers are not shopping in their stores!

For further information about how Creative Download can help you drive your business forward, take a look at the website:

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