M&M’s will open its first shop outside the States in London’s Leicester Square tomorrow. The US chocolate brand that is worth around £1.7 billion and belongs to Mars, Inc follows the trend of so called ‘retailtainment’ where global brands use their flagship stores as tourist attractions as well as shops. For instance, Disney recently re-designed its Oxford Street store to include famous Disney characters, a cinema and its own ‘closing ceremony’ at the end of each day.
The parent company Mars Inc invested £10 million to open the 35,000 sq ft M&M’s World store, located in the old Swiss Centre building. Chocolate as well as M&M-branded goods including clothing, kitchenware, bedding, jewellery and glassware are to be sold in the store. A chocolate wall, a 1963 double-decker bus, and giant interactive screens will become great touristic attractions. M&M tiered chandelier and a custom-made Union flag, created of M&M’s spokescandies are other pieces of wonder for the brand’s fans.
According to The Telegraph, the store is expected to have between 4 and 5 million visitors a year. The store should help Mars increase sales of M&M’s in the UK from current levels of £50 million a year.
Susan Saideman, president of Mars Retail Group, said that its shops in the US had performed well throughout the economic downturn. She said the ‘theatre’ in the stores brought an element of fun to the shopping trip with visitors being greeted by 7ft statues of M&M’s characters.
«We have a great experience that goes beyond the merchandise. We help people smile whatever the economy is doing,» she added.