Improving customer appeal for a leading retailer
Top retailer Marks & Spencer decided to fully refurbish two of its Cambridge stores in order to better meet customer demands. The Sidney Street store required a larger fashion offer while the Market Hill premises would benefit from a larger cafe and a modernised food hall.
We faced two major M&E challenges on these projects. Firstly, all works had to be carried out while the stores remained open so our task was to keep disruption and inconvenience to an absolute minimum. Secondly, as fully encapsulated asbestos was present, the options available to our design team were severely restricted.
We were appointed to design full detailed M&E services including heating, ventilation, lighting, power, data, sprinklers and fire alarm systems. The work was carried out on a phased basis within a tight construction period to keep disturbance to a minimum. A high percentage of the work took place out of hours, and this necessitated managing the security and control issues of a city centre location which also had severe restrictions on the movement of materials in and out of the store. For example, no external skips were permitted except those located in the store loading bay and the contractor had to agree a daily slot for removal in consultation with the Local Authority.
The restrictions imposed by the encapsulated asbestos required great creativity from our design team. We planned new services which would not impact on the existing structure – for instance, we specified adhesive piping cable fixings to attach pipework as an alternative to drilling into the walls which could have exposed the asbestos.
Both projects were delivered within an extremely tight programme and to budget. Trading has improved significantly, with the refurbishments providing a fantastic new look to both stores and giving customers a much improved shopping experience. The Market Hill store now features a 100-seat cafe with a new bakery in the upgraded food hall while the store on Sidney Street incorporates updated womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, lingerie and home departments.