We talk with Rodolfo Pérez-Martos and Tainá Zagonel, project managers of Grup Idea about the challenges in project management in the retail sector
How is a project such as a Flagship Store in the most emblematic shopping streets carried out? Grup Idea has developed Flagship Store projects for brands such as Guess, Tiffany & Co, Etam, Levi’s and, more recently, Nike on Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. We talk with Rodolfo Pérez-Martos and Tainá Zagonel, project managers at Grup Idea, about the role, qualities and challenges of planning and executing the projects managed to date.
The role of the project manager in project management
- How do top retailers work on the conceptualization, design and construction phase of their flagships and what do they expect from project managers?
TZ: Normally the major brands have their internal design team, which is in charge of doing detailed market studies, trends and generating the concept and design of the store. As project managers, our job is to adapt and reinterpret this design with local regulations, although the work is much more extensive. The brand is not only looking for a team that executes but also listens, understands the project, interprets what the client is looking for and contributes design values to their initial proposal.
RPM: Active listening with the brand is of great importance. We develop architecture and engineering projects, incorporate the image into the defined design and review the budgets so that they fit with the budget foreseen by the brand, among other tasks. Even so, the proposals and objectives required by each brand are different. The tasks of a project manager vary according to the needs of each client, that is why communication and teamwork are vital.
“The brand is not only looking for a project manager that executes but also listens, understands the project and contributes design values to its initial proposal”, Tainá Zagonel
- Do you have an example of this adaptation of concept and design to the premises?
TZ: With the remodelling of Nike Paseo de Gracia, the brand sought to communicate sustainability through the design of spaces. As project managers we brought local solutions to the design that was initially proposed by searching for local, recycled or low-environmental impact materials that fit with Nike’s Move to Zero concept. This is what we call design and production Km 0. Thus, finally, in the renovation of the premises, up to 80,000 kilograms of recycled materials have been used. Our planet deserves that we be sustainable and the big brands are increasingly sensitive to these requirements.
RPM: In the case of the Guess Paseo de Gracia project, for example, the architect in charge of the project came from the United States. In this case, the brand proposed a very defined layout by the brand’s project manager with the lighting and furniture suppliers. We act as local specialists and adapt the interior design to the evacuation regulations. We also defined the type of facade sign and the rest of the parameters so that the project was approved by the Barcelona City Council.
More and more international companies adopt this ‘glocal’ concept. They think and design globally, but they look for specialists who share the same criteria with them in order to apply them locally.
The study of regulations and the particularities of the Flagship Store
- You talk about adapting to local regulations, what are the peculiarities of working in historic and emblematic buildings such as Paseo de Gracia or Rambla Catalunya in Barcelona?
RPM: There are regulations that are regulated by the Technical Building Code (CTE) at the state level. In addition, there are specific regulations by Autonomous Community, city and even by neighborhoods in Barcelona to regulate the construction of premises and manage the preservation of buildings of heritage interest.As a project manager, you must make a study of the regulations, which mainly affect the protection of facades. The current Etam Flagship Store on Rambla Catalunya is located in Casa Juncosa, a modernist estate from 1909 that is protected as a Cultural Asset of Local Interest (BCIL) and whose greatest charm is the arched entrance door with plant-style ornaments .
It is one of the 1513 buildings that are conserved in Barcelona that are mandatory. In addition to not being able to be torn down or replaced, reforms cannot be made either, only adding volumes as long as they do not damage its original structure. We take regulations very seriously, license management is essential to carry out a project in a professional, agile way and with all the guarantees with our clients.
“License management is essential to carry out a project in a professional, agile way and with all the guarantees with our clients”, Rodolfo Pérez-Martos
- The Flagship Store concept is the brand’s ‘flagship’ space, the space where, by definition, the values that define you are transmitted. Are there very relevant differences when managing a Flagship Store project compared to a regular store?
TZ: A regular store already comes with a very defined and simplified architecture to easily apply in stores anywhere in the world. Instead, the Flagship Store is the brand’s showcase. Unlike other retail stores, the shopping experience is enhanced and invested at the technology level. For example, dynamic, visual and interactive screens are enabled where explanatory videos about the brand or its progress in innovation are shown. The concept and design of the store, more specific, concrete and differentiated, therefore conditions the project management work.
There are also unique and exclusive items in the Flagship Store where we have worked. They are architectural elements such as exposed brick walls or local references, such as the inscription ‘BCN’ in inlaid marble on the Nike Paseo de Gracia staircase.
- Continuing with the shopping experience, is there a commitment to greater online-offline integration of brands and specifically in their Flagship spaces?
TZ: It is true, currently there is already a large digital presence in the physical spaces of the Flagship, enhanced by strong support and accompaniment of employees. Even so, this integration is subtle: the online channel has emerged to improve the customer’s life and shopping experience, not to be an end in itself. Brands have used this tool to indirectly approach customers through events and actions with influencers, with the launch of products and creation of content for users.
“A regular store comes with a very defined architecture to be easily applied in stores. The concept and design of the Flagship Store, more specific, concrete and differentiated conditions the project management work”, Tainá Zagonel
The challenges in architecture and engineering and project management
- We move on to execution. You have recently completed the Nike store in Paseo de Gracia, the largest store in the country with 2,000 net square meters and three floors. What is the biggest challenge in architecture and engineering that you have faced in your professional career?
TZ: Normally the flagships are located in relevant areas, they are built in historical and old buildings and in commercial and downtown arteries. It is always a challenge to adapt a place with these characteristics and transform it into a large technology store that precisely needs connectivity and infrastructure. In my opinion, the biggest challenge I have faced has been perhaps the central staircase of the Nike project in Paseo de Gracia, since we had to make some important structural reinforcements in the slab due to its large dimensions.
RPM: I believe that if you have the time and the budget, everything can be done. In projects of these characteristics, it is very important that the coordination works and comply with the times to reach the scheduled opening date.
- And what is the biggest challenge about project coordination and people management?
TZ: In our last project, we had industrialists and operators from Italy, England, Scotland, Holland and Slovakia, among other countries. Most of them are very professional and proactive, but the coordination of all the work they do is complex and requires very strict monitoring.
RPM: Also the personnel in charge of mounting the screens came from Poland, for example. They have very different ways of working and managing teams and meeting the required level of detail is a challenge.
The attention to detail and the relationship of trust with the brands
- What does it mean to work for the big brands at the level of demand and attention to detail?
RPM: It is a responsibility, of course. In a scenario such as project management, with hundreds of industrialists involved, brands always look for a visible head, a trusted professional who knows the peculiarities of the project and the level of detail that is required. Brands have always valued the work we do at Grup Idea and, proof of this, is that we have been working for them for many years.
TZ: Brands are very demanding and we take responsibility for the successful execution of emblematic projects. I am proud of our ability to listen to the client, seek and define in a decisive and practical way viable solutions that fit with the project design. I also believe that communication and coordination with the teams I have worked with has been good, always with respect and in a good environment. In this way, work becomes more pleasant when problems and surprises arise on site.
“Brands are always looking for a visible head, a trusted professional who knows the peculiarities of the project and the level of detail that is required”, Rodolfo Pérez-Martos
- What are your next challenges? What are you working on now?
TZ: In my case, right now I am working on the restyling of several Guess stores in Spain. They are existing stores where it is necessary to adapt to new criteria and retail concepts in accordance with brand requirements.
RPM: We are also immersed in a series of corporate office projects for various clients. They will have a much more flexible and dynamic design.