El Reto

GLOBETROTTER, DESIGNED TO FIRE THE IMAGINATION_An interpretation of the store that won the European design award


When you think about the ideal store, the first image that almost certainly comes to mind is a selling machine. But perhaps you would not have suspected that in order to achieve this objective, you should first create an imagination machine: a store that tells a meaningful story, whose main characters – brands, architecture, visual information, sales staff – follow the script and transmit values to the visitors, making them feel part of the story. A walk around Globetrotter shows that the story is actually true.


On 23 February, EuroShop announced that the winner of its world Retail Design Award in Europe was the Globetrotter store in Cologne (Germany).

I contacted the manager, Thomas Lipke, and the architect, Holger Moths, who organised a visit for me, and assistant manager Anja Vogel kindly showed me around.

From the outside, the store makes no real impression: it is an old building in the city centre, in an area which had been losing prestige, and it used to be a shopping centre with 70 shops. It was bought up and now it is a store with an area of 6,200 m2.


First, let us describe it (what it does and what it has)

It is owned by a German company, which is an outdoor specialist. In other words, it sells products related with enjoying nature and travelling. The company’s turnover is around 145 million Euros, from its 6 stores and of its remote sales, mainly via Internet, that represent the 45%.

The target public is highly diverse: from hard-core mountaineering enthusiasts to less specialised segments, country walkers and casual travellers.

Therefore, its business model is that of an appropriately specialised store: it sells a fairly specific type of product, but it is open to a wide variety of segments, locating in cities where there is a critical mass.

The store is on 4 floors, with a large open area in the centre, which includes a 240 square metre swimming pool where customers can try out canoes and learn scuba diving.


Other outstanding features are a “windy refrigerator” where you can test the heat retention of garments, shower cabins where you can try out the raincoats, an active anthill, an aquarium with jellyfish, a toilet like the ones on old boats and a climbing area. The dome over the swimming pool is reminiscent of treetops, and from time to time forest sounds can be heard.


Shower cabins and display of boots in Globetrotter.

Now, let us make an interpretation of it

(what it is and what it makes you feel)

When you are inside, you forget about the usual topics related with a store (product, price, promotions, service, car park, etc.), simply because the store invites you to share values that we all have: imagination and authenticity.

You immerse yourself in these values, because the story that is being told is coherent – one that everyone can understand and follow.

There are some performers who follow the script and get the spotlights: the brands – both the house brand and the suppliers’ brands.

The architecture, the visual information and also the sales staff, brimming with passion and commitment, are all responsible for transmitting these values.







There is also another guest in this story: the visitor. Someone who wants to learn and who feels really excited by imagining his next trip to the Alps. In this way, with their facial expressions and their comments, the customers not only play an active role, they “make the store”, they co-create it.

And later, “infected” by their experiences, they will spread word of mouth, and then new expectant customers will add to the snowball effect.

Although, without any publicity, the store made a slow start two years ago, it has been designed to be an imagination machine, and this is why it has become a selling machine (reporting a monthly sales increase of more than 20% in 2007).

A store with a shared sense of purpose drives sales growth, making the typical anniversary and 3×2 promotions look old fashioned.


Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Distribución Actualidad, the spanish magazine of retail

(nº 388, April 2008)