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The Brief

We were tasked by Smith Brewer with drawing up a suite of bespoke retail furniture for TRI UK using a selection of concept renders and an animated walkthrough video as reference. Over a span of nearly 6 months, 28 individual units were drawn up in Solidworks and the manufacturer was supplied with technical GA PDF drawings and supplementary 3D CAD data for each unit.

All Photos © Smith Brewer

The Process

12 months after the announcement of their new ownership to Sports Direct, TRI UK unveiled the opening of their new flagship store in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to the design and development of this flagship retail store.

From basic floor standing units (FSU’s) & accessory wall bays, to more complicated items such as the “Swim Zone” (wetsuit try-out area) and the “Bike Fitting Unit”, a wide range of units were developed for TRI UK – Shirebrook using a variety of manufacturing methods and materials. We were given strict design guidelines to adhere to during the entire development process; implementing universal shopfitting standards across all POS elements (D-Rails, RSB’s & forward arms e.t.c.) so that all POS accessories could be seamlessly interchanged across the entire catalogue of units.

The following paragraphs list a small selection of the total units delivered:

Mid Floor Accessory FSU

This towering 4.5m x 3m floor standing accessory display was one of the first items we designed for TRI UK and multiple design elements needed to be considered for it to be successfully manufactured. Due to the large amount of safety glass required for the cabinet displays, the first design hurdle was to evaluate the structural stability of the main frame to mitigate the danger of toppling over from an accidental fall or collision. This concern was resolved by increasing the overall unit’s footprint, and integrating folded base plate trays that the cabinets could mechanically fix into – providing additional structural stability.

We made the decision early on to split the construction into multiple sections for ease of manufacturability, handling, and shipping. The outer frame was broken into 3 parts, with a spigot and sleeve connection detail, and a central mirrored panel was used to help tie the component parts together. Vertical uprights with a tube-lasered slot profile, allowed an assortment of safety glass shelving to be hung, whilst design considerations were also made for LED cabling, security access and product storage.

Bike Zone Apparel FSU

We developed two differently sized versions of these mid floor apparel display for Shirebrook, and although the overall look and feel of the units remained consistent with the concept render, we had to modify the base of the design to improve stability when fully loaded. We suggested welding box section legs to the vertical uprights and implemented folded gusset supports to further increase stability. Plywood base plinths were then added with a dual purpose of hiding the mechanical fixings and also to align more closely with the accessory gondolas.  

These units also featured tube-lasered upright box section profiles allowing an array of component fixtures (D-Rails, RSB’s & forward arms) to be installed in a wide variety of configurations to accomodate whatever apparel items the client would want to display. As per the Sunglass accessory unit – the mid floor displays were split into modular sections that could be easily transported and bolted together on site. In addition to this, adjustable feet were integrated into the legs of the FSU to allow the installation team to level the unit and avoid rocking.

Bike Zone Accessory Gondolas

A suite of smaller accessory Gondolas were designed for TRI UK with a varying selection of integrated POS features, allowing for multiple product stock display configurations. Consultation with the manufacturer ensured that important details were captured, such as the forward arms being angled 2 degrees upwards (to account for full product loading) and oversized welded end caps (to ensure the products couldn’t detach). This ensured a feature-complete suite of final products that met the brief whilst matching the original design intent.

Run Zone Shoe Wall

The design of the running shoe wall involved careful consideration of the installation procedure on site. Plywood backing panels were designed with pre-machined holes so that they could be screwed directly to the wall substrate with minimal effort. As the end panels differentiated from the central ones, we suggested implementing routed number codes so that they could be installed in the correct order (minimising mistakes on-site). The shoe display panels were then mounted using split battens and the individual shoe trays were fixed in-situ using a cantilevered slot mechanism.

Run and Swim Zone Wall Bays

These two feature wall bays were mocked up for the run and swim zones and were designed in such a way so that they could be stacked in a run of three or more. They featured a small podium plinth to the front left, on which a retail mannequin would be mounted wearing specially-selected brand clothing. A simple tube framework was devised to allow hanging of clothing/apparel in multiple different configurations. Lastly, a translucent-vinyl-backed acrylic header feature was integrated into the metalwork with custom brand logos enscribed into the panels above.

Entrance Promotional Area

The most complicated element of the promotional area to design was the “lenticular-printed” display wall. This was created using folded sheet metal panels to create a concertinaed display wall that two different sets of spliced graphic vinyls could be applied to. We added in laser cut key holes to allow the blind folded edge to be fixed back to the wall substrate. A raised floor was then designed in front of the display wall, initially featuring integrated LED lights strips but later scaled back to white vinyl lines to cut back on cost. A raised plinth was also designed to showcase the “hero” product bicycle.

The Challenges

One of the key challenges of this project was the need to balance utilising the manufacturer’s recommended construction methods with the intended design direction and concept renders. We were given guidance on RHS/SHS profile sizes as well as preferred manufacturing methods for welding notes, materials and finishes.

This necessitated open communication between Step2 Design, the client and manufacturer, and frequent in-person meetings and design reviews took place across the project’s 6-month term to ensure all this information was captured. We also conducted a site survey at the existing TRI UK site in Yeovil to help with the development of some of the more complicated retail units.

On project completion, we were glad to see that the manufactured furniture stayed true to both the concept images supplied by the client and the design language of TRI UK’s refreshed brand direction. All in all, we were glad to have helped contribute to the successful opening of TRI UK’s new flagship store and were thoroughly pleased in how this project turned out.

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