rkd retail/iQ

general news

interview in retail design international magazine

retail design international, may / june 2009, page 74-79
meet the designers
After five years of a monthly commute to Asia from a North America base, a full time on the ground commitment was a timely and appropriate choice for RKurt Durrant. At the time, the thought of moving to Bangkok in 1992 felt a little like the edge of the galaxy but in his heart of hearts he sensed it would become the center of the universe and the logical home of his design firm rkd retail/iQ.

For rkd retail/iQ that vision has been realized over time with six group offices: four in China (Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong) one in India (Mumbai), the seventh office in MENA. Middle East North Africa (Dubai) opening in quarter-two of 2009. The group head quarter resides in Bangkok, a global city known for its vibrant culture and exciting lifestyle.

Upon completing his twenty first year in international strategic retail planning and design consulting, RKurt Durrant celebrates his 12th year as president and idea man of the company he founded in the ashes of 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Looking at the current global situation, Kurt admits he feels a sense of deja vu. These are very interesting times and the challenges we face will be the most significant of my lifetime to date.

Asia is in a significantly improved position compared to twelve years ago, as there has been a real and significant economic power shift to the dynamic economies of East, South-east and South Asia, rkd retail/iQ is very well positioned for the uncertainties ahead.
Professionally active in more than 20 countries, rkd retail/iQ thrives on the diversity of the region. Taking inspiration from the variety of cultures, client experiences, customer behaviors, strategic objectives and "left field" challenges has all contributed to the firms exciting journey, making each assignment extraordinary and fresh.
Kurt is quick to add that paramount to rkd retail/iQ success is the company's multi-cultural creative team, which he feels is second to none. The firm is commitment to bring in the best and brightest talents from the local and regional pool with a variety of backgrounds and experiences as well as actively developing its staffs expertise by affording many the opportunity to study abroad. Beyond our client and project success, Kurt ads there is a real joy and unconditional satisfaction in nurturing the next wave of cutting edge creating talent.

rkd retail/iQ focuses on leading regional retailers and retail developers and selected global brands within each market and across all retail channels and formats creating complete branded environments and customer experiences around the globe primarily concentrating on the Asian marketplace.

Their core objectives are to help clients clearly position their retail brands in today's competitive world market, through a unique and convergent process of retail strategy, retail planning + design, retail + environmental graphics and retail architecture.

rkd retail/iQ's mission is to bring international retail consultancy services to established and evolving clients and guide them, to improve international best-practiced standards and retail brand implementation. And although they have developed an industry proven process, they customize their approach specifically for each client and assignment. From a book & stationery concept in India to an ultimate luxury specialty store in Macau, from a lifestyle supermarket in China, to luxury airport retail in Abu Dhabi and form a Supercenter in Thailand to everything else in between. All retail channels and formats are serviced with the same level of dedication, although the differences between Mumbai and Beijing, for example, are clearly respected.

Every client, market, customer profile and objective combines together to form a unique criteria thus dictating and individual approach for services. Clear communication and understanding between client, consultant and objective is key and especially important across cultural and language differences of their market.

It is apparent that the firm's longevity comes from understanding that the retail businesses' belongs to the clients "and not to the consultant." The result of rkd retail/iQ's service is not a monolog of their vision; quite the opposite as the firms core responsibility is to help clients reach their goals through the team's comprehensive methodology and consultancy experience.

"Within the cultural variety in which we operate, clear communication is essential and our role is basically a combination of sleuth, devil's advocate, team builder, confidant and visionary." Kurt states openly.

In the discovery phases it is important to audit the current operation, listen to new business concepts and overlay goals and objectives to highlight the challenges in a painfully honest evaluation. "Our mission is to go beyond conventional wisdom to meet the best possible design solution, while considering all sources, client directives and existing customer research." It is the depth and breadth of the rkd retail/iQ experience that the client has chosen and it is the clients' expectation to receive that perspective, even if it is not what they want to hear. The design team gains a significant amount to energy and momentum from their clients(,) their drive, their desire for improvement and success that is quite charming and humbling at the same time. Working towards initiating the process of inclusion not exclusion, it is essential to have direct and candid discussions with all key client representatives, breaking down internal barriers and begin team building focused on the new project.

Regardless of the goals and objectives, if the client departments cannot come together as a team, then no level of great retail planning and design will make the project successful. There are so many components that must come together for success and many are beyond the control of the consultant. Therefore it is essential to have all key client departments in the process so their participation will help facilitate their ownership and vested interest in the success of the finalized retail concept/ brand.

Kurt believes all clients understand the value of consultant services when it is based on trust, confidence and mutual respect and building long-term relationships with clients' is the modus operandi of rkd retail/iQ. Working within those criteria a variety of conflicts can certainly be weathered resulting in a stronger client/ consultant relationship. One of the real challenges for the consultant is to stay relevant to the clients' needs, now and in the future. The growth curve of most of our clients can be extremely impressive and building a consulting service that anticipates these needs makes the assimilation process key to staying involved as the client matures.

Examining rkd retail/iQ's success more closely, it is clear they do not chase projects, instead they choose to seek, to nurture and hold-on to long-term relationships with clients; exemplified in celebrating their twenty-year partnerships with selected clients. From the very beginning of taking on a new client, rkd retail/iQ considers the short, mid and long term objectives of all projects and relationships. rkd retail/iQ has the ability to service clients at all points in their growth, competitive and maturity cycles with relevant services and compelling solutions. "Our clients understand the value rkd retail/iQ brings to a project and how our professional retail planning and design services can create, focus or redefine brand value, drive business and actually pay for itself many times over, presently and in the future."

How is success measured? Kurt's response with a smile is. "At the cash register, good sales = good design, a truly successful project cannot be a visual success and a commercial failure. That said in the majority of projects, ultimate success is actually a series of smaller success along the way."

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