Wellness warehouse scoops prestigious store design award

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					Wellness warehouse scoops prestigious store design award

Wellness Warehouse is the winner of the prestigious Retail Design and Development
Award for the store design category for 2008 given by the South African Council
of Shopping Centres (SACSC).

Store Development Designer, Craig Munnik was thrilled when he accepted the award.
“Our design team at Wellness Warehouse pulled out all the stops to create a truly
inspiring and experiential shopping experience and it is exhilarating to see the fruits of
our hard labour.”

Founder Dr Sean Gomes is over the moon. “It’s great to be recognised for the effort we
put into creating this concept. A lot of thought and energy went into the design and
concept and often it is not always seen. One needs to spend time there to appreciate all
the thought that has gone into creating an enjoyable shopping and unique experience.”

As a large format concept store Wellness Warehouse is a world first combining all
aspects of wellness under one roof. This means a one-stop shop that includes healthy
food, natural and pharmaceutical medication, Spa treatments, fitness, books and DVD’s,
mother and baby requirements and beauty and nurture.

“Getting the right blend of
elements was a courageous and challenging project requiring extensive worldwide
Early trips to trade fairs and expos during the development of the concept led us to create
an experiential shopping destination where customers are constantly delighted and feel
to test products and ultimately learn more about leading a balanced life,” says Craig.

“We put a lot of effort into creating a unique shopping experience for South African
consumers. We travelled around the world (USA, Australia, UK) in order to get
inspiration for our concept. We’ve combined a number of different retail and service
elements into one store which has not been done before. This includes pharmacy, clinic,
Natural Medicine Dispensary, Spa, café and foodmarket,” comments Sean.

The store design brief was to create an environment that entertains customers; to develop
an expo/trade fair feel to the store with shop-in-shop experiences; to create a modern and
refreshing environment; a place where customers can interact, be educated and sample
products and services. The visual interpretation culminated in a store design using fresh
signature green and natural woody browns, a balance between organic forms and
functionality. At the Kloof Street branch a trademark giant-sized tree of life represents an
abundant and plentiful life that brings together both community and environmental
concerns. Clean lines and a spacious layout create an inviting flow with neatly labelled
and packed aisles for convenient product sourcing. Throughout the store inspiring
signage and information offers encouragement and know-how on healthy lifestyle.
“We’ve complemented the departments with a good selection of books focused on
education on good living. The store design, mood, colour, lighting and smell give people
a sense of calm and allow them to enjoy the shopping experience,” remarks Sean.

Many innovative features highlight the progressive culture of this store. Touch screen
allow shoppers to print out comprehensive information on specialised diets, recipes and
customised shopping lists while the health note section has an easy search for lifestyle
and supplement advice on an A to Z of ailments.
A signature fragrance with a compelling lemongrass undertone is circulated throughout
the store providing added sensory pleasure for shoppers. Services like the Spa provide
absolute privacy and comfort during treatments while diagnostic testing and wellness
assessments are conveniently provided. Information and
education is part of the philosophy and communicated to shoppers through inspirational
signage. Caring for the environment is
made easy with recycling bins and reusable shopping bags. The WellCafe is surrounded
by a storehouse of carefully selection books for easy browsing while snacking. Munnik is
dedicated to creating new concepts and shopping experiences for the South African
consumer. “The only thing standing against us is, because we look so upmarket, people
don’t realise our prices are extremely competitive.”

The Wellness Trend
On a global scale the Wellness revolution is gaining momentum. More and more people
are choosing to live life well – a life that embodies total wellbeing and optimum health.
Awareness of holistic, alternative and complementary healing methods, positive thinking,
stress reducing exercise, nurturing body products, and organic and enviro-friendly food
are all part of this exciting journey towards wellness.

The Wellness revolution is not a fad or a trend; it’s a way of existing in the world that
permeates every aspect of our lifestyle. It influences the way we eat, exercise, sleep,
work, age and think.

We put some questions to founder Dr Sean Gomes.

What was the inspiration for the Wellness Warehouse concept? Who conceptualised

The initial inspiration came from the idea of creating a one-stop shopping destination for
everything to do with health and wellness. My brother and I further conceptualised this
and decided to create the infrastructure for a chain of large format destination stores
catering for everything to do with achieving a Wellness lifestyle.

There is a growing trend for people to be more health conscious and to try and achieve
more balance in their lifestyles. Balance in work and play, and balance in relationships
with themselves, others and the environment.

Early trips to trade fairs and expos during the development of the concept led us to create
an experiential shopping destination where customers are constantly delighted and feel
comfortable to try and test products and ultimately learn more about leading a balanced

Were you inspired by a particular international retailer?

We travelled to Europe, America and Australasia and took inspiration from a number of
retail concepts, but found none that encompassed such a wide range of products and
services as created in the Wellness Warehouse concept.

How did your medical background influence your decision to create Wellness

Primary healthcare and preventative medicine are the most effective means of improving
the health of the population. By creating a successful business that promotes healthy
living through a balanced lifestyle I felt I would be able to influence the health and
wellbeing of the South African public. Whilst practicing medicine
I was only able to help one patient at a time whereas through Wellness I am able to
influence the health of a greater group of people.

Public feedback and response thus far?

The public response has been great. We regularly get feedback that people love the
experience and can’t wait to come back. I believe people feel that at Wellness Warehouse
they can spend time exploring and learning as well as getting all their day-to-day
necessities. We have created a relaxing environment, that gives shoppers the opportunity
to explore their choices in terms of health, natural and environmentally conscious

What were some of the challenges to developing the brand?

Being a new concept, it was sometimes difficult for people to understand exactly what we
were trying to achieve. We often got the question: Where have you seen this before? Or
which overseas store have you based the business on? So it took us a while to explain
what the concept was and for people to have faith in the success of the concept.

What are some of the biggest global wellness trends? And how does Wellness
Warehouse interpret them?

Sleep: It is important to get quality rejuvenating sleep. At Wellness we offer a wide range
of specially designed mattresses and sleep accessories that reduce sleep disturbances.
They also help maintain correct spinal alignment. There are a number of other products
that can also be found within the store to achieve more restful sleep such as aromatic
essential oils for massage and burning, relaxing CDs, comfortable cotton sleep wear and

Organic and green: There is a worldwide trend towards using organic and fair-trade
products. This includes food that is grown without harmful synthetic pesticides,
herbicides and fertilisers. These products assist in caring for yourself, your loved ones,
the community and the environment. At Wellness we have an organic food market with
fresh and long life products. In our green aisle, we have a range of environmentally
conscious home care and convenience products which include organic cotton
wool, feminine hygiene products and organic and biodegradable cleaning products to
name but a few.

Natural medicine: Complementary
medicine and preventative medicine are growing in popularity. At Wellness our
natural Medicine Dispensary is the
epicenter of our health department. Here
you can consult with our in-house
Naturopath and take home an organic
herbal tincture or homeopathic remedy.
We have a full range of medicines covering an extensive range of complementary
health modalities.

Home spa: This is the trend of creating a relaxing sanctuary in your home where you can
be pampered and relax. This is a growing trend in the States and at Wellness Warehouse
we provide everything you need to create your own home spa. This includes products
from massage beds, essential oils and facial steamers to massage showers and saunas.

What was the gist of your brief to the architects/designers/shopfitters who have
helped to create the Wellness Warehouse environment?

To create an environment where customers are entertained.

To create an expo/trade fair feel within the store with shop-in-shop experiences.

To create an environment that is modern and refreshing. A place where customers will
want to spend their time.

What do you love most about what you do?

Creating new concepts and shopping experiences for the South African consumer.
Promoting healthy living and a balanced lifestyle to all South Africans. Working with a
great team of like minded individuals who want to provide the best wellness products and
services to the South African consumer.

How did the idea of Wellness Warehouse come about?
Following the successful sale of a previous retail chain we looked for a new retail
opportunity. People the world over are more health conscious and are continually trying
to achieve more balance in their lifestyles. Balance in work and play, and balance in
relationships with themselves, others and the environment.

We identified this growing trend of Wellness, which led us to the concept of creating a
chain of large format destination stores that catered for everything to do with achieving a
Wellness lifestyle. We want customers to find everything they need and also have the
choice of shopping with awareness and practicing responsible consumerism. Inside our
stores customers can explore, experiment, play and shop all under one roof. In terms of
our retail product strategy, our product range includes those that offer solutions to
customers’ needs by contributing to a Wellness oriented lifestyle. For complete
convenience we also have a range of familiar everyday products, but offer organic and
eco-friendly alternatives alongside these. As the demand for these products grow, we aim
to grow our range of environmentally friendly products. We are committed to giving
customers a choice and to encouraging them to buy into the concept of eco-friendly
products. For instance, nappy alternatives include re-usable brands such as Stegi and
Mother Nature as well as chlorine free disposable nappies from Seventh Generation.
Because I come from a medical background
I feel very strongly about improving health through primary healthcare and preventative
medicine. So the idea of creating a successful business that promotes healthy living
through a balanced lifestyle inspires me. It means influencing the health and wellbeing of
a greater group of people than I can through practicing medicine.

Are you passionate about environmentally sustainable products? Why?

The benefits are unquestionable. Nature is our most precious commodity and we are
becoming more aware of preservation of the planet. The benefits of switching to
biodegradable products are twofold: not only are you supporting a healthier environment,
but you’re significantly reducing your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals. What sets
us apart as a retailer is our unique Green Aisle introducing customers to eco-friendly
alternatives, including local and imported organic and biodegradable ranges of household
cleaning products; ammonia free hair colour; and our 100% organic cotton wool and
femcare products. We recently launched a range of recycled stationery for a back-to-
school promotion and have launched a number of earth friendly product ranges that
include biodegradable household products, chlorine free nappies and toilet paper/kitchen
towels made from recycled paper.

                    Dr Sean Gomes – founder of Wellness Warehouse