In the freshly built expansion of Westfield White City new stores are still opening, and if there’s one thing that gets us excited here at Whippet, it’s a new store. Especially when we learn that one of them is a Japanese Marketplace.
From the team behind the Japan Centre on Panton St and restaurant chain Shoryu Ramen, Ichiba is Europe’s largest Japanese food hall bringing artisanal food, drink, homewares and gifts from Japan to London.
The moment you arrive, there are instant references to Japanese culture. Bright lights and light wood textures give a traditional feel, reminiscent of a modern Japanese restaurant.Throughout the store are what Ichiba refers to as ‘theatrical zones’ – areas where chefs create authentic Japanese dishes, live, that you can eat in or take away. They also host cooking demonstrations and workshops, which is a great way to show customers who are new to the cuisine how to cook with their products.
The overall layout of the store is simple, with brightly lit fresh counter areas and well-placed overhead navigation and a brand style that’s fresh and modern. We particularly like the organic style of illustration which sits well with the friendly handwritten style of the logo and bold colour palette. Little brand touches such as the packing stickers and colourful staff uniforms help to add to the modern feel of the store too. However, we did notice a lack of in-aisle communication, particularly around education and inspiration, so unless you know your Japanese products (we don’t!), it’s difficult to understand what you’re buying until you see the small ticketing. A more evident tone of voice would help give the store more of a personality too.
Overall though, it’s an exciting store, offering something new and different to what can be a tough, been-there-seen-it-done-that London crowd. But with more than 3000 products and immersive experience top of its agenda, Ichiba looks set to appeal to both the Japanese community and Japanese-curious alike.