31 October 2018

How to find the perfect retail shopfitter

Text author: Lucy Sparks


When looking for a fit-out company or contractor you want to work with to deliver not just your future store, but a peace of mind that that your project is in safe hands, it’s best to choose carefully.  Collaborating with a like-minded fit-out company that not only knows the fit-out trade in and out but also understands your vision and brand ethos can be critical to success.  And a wise choice will take the worry out of whether your store is going to be delivered on time, on budget and to your exact design/vision.

Easier said than done? There are certain checkpoints to be visited. Ask yourself these five questions to help settle on the right shopfitter.


1. Portfolio – who have they worked for?

A natural place to start would be to take a close look at the shopfitters portfolio on their website or in other points online – which brands they have worked with and who they are working for currently? Any fit-out company proud of their recent work will talk about projects in their website news or social media platforms. With this cue, you can gauge the quality of their work by visiting some of the stores they have fitted out recently. By doing this compact research, you can figure out whether they definitely have experience in the type of fit-out job you need: this could be anything from a supplier that just installs your free-issue fixtures and fittings to a company that offers complete turnkey solutions.


2. Could they work for you?

This leads us onto our second point: out of the retailers they have been working for, are their businesses similar to your own?  It goes without saying that a fit-out partner who is experienced in working with other similar retailers will be a safe choice for your project.  Ask to see case studies, references from other retailers – or even better– visit the very stores that they have fitted out to get a real feel for the quality of their work.


3. Does their skill set meet your needs?

This might seem obvious, but it does make sense to choose a fit-out partner who has the right skill set for what your exact project requirements.  If you need an end-to-end service, perhaps even with ongoing maintenance, look for a partner who has relevant experience in this area.  Equally, if you are in a position to provide your fixtures and fittings free issue then all you need is an experienced fitter. 

4. Are they and their supply chain accredited?

As well as references, case studies and experience, a lot can be said about a shopfitter based on what kind of accreditations and officially recognised qualifications they hold in the fit-out trade. Any prospective supplier should be more than happy to provide you with evidence of their accreditations, which should include some or all of the most essential ones such as SafeContractor; CHAPS and ConstructionLine. Last, but not least, holding relevant site-specific qualifications and in-date First Aid qualifications is a must. Plus, when on the lookout for suppliers who offer manufacturing of fixtures and fittings, screen them for ISO certifications and memberships of relevant manufacturing bodies.

Finally, if you’re looking for a partner who can offer a full turn-key solution and they utilise subcontractors, make sure their subcontractors are fully insured and hold relevant qualifications themselves: this in fact should be part of an internal pre-qualification procedure conducted by the main contractor, i.e. your potential partner.

5. Are they good communicators?

Even the best skill set won’t deliver unless there is good, open and efficient communication between the parties every step of the way. You should be able to get hold of your fit-out partner contact easily: always there to meet you if needed and answering your calls and emails promptly.  They should keep you updated with progress from site at all times. And, when something goes to plan B, they should be able to make the right choices under pressure or against time constraints.

With the right mindset and criteria for choosing a shopfitter the whole supplier screening process goes faster and there is a bigger chance for finding a partner you need. Remember also about the power of recommendation: ask around in your circle for opinions and experiences with fit-out partners. These words can support what you have found out yourself and increase the probability of choosing well. Good luck!

Read also our  Practical Guide To Planning Your Store Fit-Out 

Author: Lucy Sparks

Lucy works at CAPS Interiors, a CAPS Group company, as Office Manager and is involved in fit-out and project management for key clients in the UK.

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About the company: at CAPS Group we get it. We provide a ‘one stop shop’ service to retailers that care about their sales performance and the power of customer experience. Get in touch and challenge us!



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