The following are just a few examples of the assignments we’ve carried out in recent years.
South West Museum Development Programme, 2014
For this major assignment we carried out a series of retail assessments across 22 museums including STEAM, Corinium Museum, Ilfracombe Museum, Poole Museum, Kelmscott Manor, the Helicopter Museum and the Museum of Dartmoor Life.
Our subsequent reports, which we presented and talked through with retail managers, curators, senior managers and, in some cases, trustees, included a series of recommendations to develop and improve the retail business; both short term “quick wins” and longer term strategic actions. These recommendations included measurement of key performance indicators, new approaches to buying and negotiating, improvements to visual merchandising and advice on new suppliers and merchandise. The emphasis, as with all our retail reviews, was very much on steps which could be taken to help improve profitability.
This assignment was based on a forerunner, funded by MLA Renaissance in 2011, which we carried out across 20 museums in the south east, including the Mary Rose Trust, Fishbourne Roman Palace and the Museum of English Rural Life. These assessments were supported by two training workshops on buying and visual merchandising held at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley.
Wessex Museums Partnership, 2012-13
We undertook an analysis of the retail operations at Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum (Devizes) and Dorset County Museum and produced written reports with the emphasis on practical recommendations to improve and develop the retail businesses. These included advice on shopfitting and we worked with each museum on implementing shopfitting plans. The museums in Salisbury and Devizes were completely refitted and Dorset County Museum had a partial refit. We advised on suppliers and merchandise and spent time at the Spring Fair (NEC) with retail managers and colleagues introducing them to suppliers and new product ideas.
Client: Sussex Archaeological Society (Sussex Past), 2012 to date
We reviewed the retail businesses at Lewes Castle, Anne of Cleves House and Michelham Priory and presented our recommendations to the Chief Executive and the managers at each site. We have since worked with the client, a charitable trust, on implementation. This includes shopfitting and detailed advice on merchandise and product development. Michelham has been part refitted on a budget and new product sourced and presented with much more confidence. On a Saturday in early summer the shop took a third of the entire May sales budget.
Client: Cathedral and Church Shops Association (CCSA), 2012
This association is non-profit making and is the only organisation which exists solely to support the Church’s work through retailing. It has over 120 members from all parts of the UK and beyond, and is non-denominational.
The CCSA commissioned us to write a retail handbook for mangers of shops at cathedrals and churches. This was a major project necessitating considerable research, including meetings with a number of retail managers of ecclesiastical shops. The handbook was launched at the CCSA’s annual conference in November 2012. Retail Thinking also ran training sessions at the CCSA’s regional meetings that year.