An air of style

Sydney-based high end fine jewellery and watch specialist, J Farren-Price has expanded its Sydney CBD presence by almost 50 per cent, undergoing an extensive refit as a result.

The 70 year old family company established in 1942 by John Farren-Price has been housed in its Castlereagh St Sydney premises for around 35 years, expanding the store down the length of the St James Arcade to 120sqm.

So in 2010 when the family found it was once again outgrowing its space, it turned to Design Portfolio, who had worked on its last refurbishment and expansion in 2006, to create a new look and atmosphere.

At 180sqm, the new store joins the original tenancy with that of the St James Arcade’s former shoe store, effectively bolting on an addition 60sqm of selling space.

Julian Farren-Price, director of the company, told Inside Retail Magazine the previous store was shaped more like a “bowling alley”, having expanded down the arcade, but being unable to gain any extra width.

By combining the new store and the old and changing the layout of front and back areas, a larger and more practical rectangular retail space was achieved by Design Portfolio and the orientation of the store could rotate to face directly onto Castlereagh St (instead of the St James Arcade).

Danielle Visione, principal at Design portfolio, said the new layout needed to integrate a strong room, storage for catalogues and boxes, two offices, a dedicated Patek Philippe Private Room, Rolex Area, and watch display cases, along with the J Farren-Price jewellry collections.

The goal was to create a “stunning, elegant retail experience through the use of high quality finishes that extenuates the beauty and quality of the finest jewellery and watches the world has to offer for their discerning clientele,” says Visione.

The result is a modern but classic design using finishes that compliment the exclusive products and brands sold. A huge amount of finishes were used within the store, including bronze mirror, limestone, leather wall cladding, wallpaper, marble, baresque illume, anodized aluminium, brass, glass, and polyurethane.

Custom designed glass free-standing display cases with floating feel and integrated display pads in drawer system were created for the new space, along with detailed bronze and limestone inlay in the centre of store with JFP initials.

Also custom designed to match are entrance handles with JFP initials laser cut in bronze finish.

When it came to security, a new Dialock system was chosen for electronic locking on all cabinets and storage to allow for seamless doors.

Security was also integrated into the displays and storage to avoid using keys. The integration of this into the joinery was complex.

The fitout was carried out by high end retail fitout specialists, Uptown Group, who worked for two months on the new store before the original tenancy was closed for three weeks and the separating wall removed.

Said Farren-Price of the process: “we didn’t want to be out of business too long, so we did it in stages.”

In all, the fitout took 10 weeks.

“We managed to close for just three weeks while Uptown Group finished the job. We left one Friday and by Saturday morning our store had been knocked down, they had the hoardings up and they worked furiously seven days a week to get us trading with a minimal amount of delay,” said Farren-Price.

Of course, the project was not without its challenges. Design Portfolio needed to convince the family to move to a slightly more masculine feel to highlight the watch brands the store carries and attract the desired clientele, with men and overseas visitors making up 70 per cent of its customer base.

Achieve a space that satisfied both the exterior shopfront display and internal display requirements with the restriction of security and branded supplier stands was also somewhat of a feat. Seamless integration of complex security, air conditioning, fire services, electrical and locking systems were required for the design, at the same time as completely concealing services.

Also needing to be appeased were the brand design guidelines of both the Rolex and Patek Philippe areas, along with J Farren-Price design components.
“Entering the world of J Farren-Price is like stepping into ultimate luxury,” describes Visione.

“The new store design and layout convinces you it is worth paying the price. The beautiful retail store matches the quality and stature of the brands they are selling. Their window display is open, attractive and inviting,” she said.

Punctuating all this is imported French furniture and an eye catching crystal light fitting.

But despite the elegance of the new store and the company’s successful performance, Farren-Price is keen to remain as a single store operation.

“We’re a family business and we can only be one place at one time, and while it has been through my mind from time to time of having branches, you cannot recreate what we have here, said Farren-Price.

“In any event you never finish stocking this place. We can buy diamonds and watches for $500,000 to $1 million each, and I would rather have the best stock in one location, than trying to split it up among many.”

J Farren-Price is located at 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney.

* This feature first appeared in the October/November 2012 edition of Inside Retail Magazine. For more stories like this, subscribe to Inside Retail Magazine’s bi-monthly print edition here.

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