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Leeds architects design UK’s largest photographic retail site

The Wex store
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Leeds-based Ormerod Sutton Architects (OSA) is celebrating the launch of its latest completed project – a significant national contract with Wex Photo Video to design the UK’s largest photographic store, which was fitted out by NBC Contracting Ltd.

The store, which is supported by the world’s leading photography brands, including Canon, Sony, Pentax, Epsom and Fujifilm, offers an immersive retail experience at its location in Whitechapel, London.

OSA partnered with Hampshire-based NBC Contracting to build the 7,400 square feet store – a partnership that has developed over the last ten years, as the two companies have collaborated on more than 50 projects, including Majestic Wines’ flagship UK store in Mayfair.

Designing a site to house the UK’s largest collection of professional photographic equipment meant that OSA had to consider the customer experience at all points, to maximise the opportunity to test out the products.

OSA designed areas including a drone flight zone, events theatre, gallery and created bespoke play tables. OSA also chose specific materials and colours to ensure that the black products stood out, whilst also ensuring that Wex’s brand identity wasn’t compromised.

OSA also specified several sustainable elements, such as flooring constructed from cacao chips and crushed cocoa shells, and LED lighting across the store.

Armine Sutton, director at Ormerod Sutton Architects, said: “This was an exciting and innovative project for us to design. We’re a small practice based in Leeds but we scale up to deliver large national contracts like this.

“We pride ourselves on close collaboration with our clients to truly capture their needs and brand to create the best possible consumer experience in-store.

“The time frames were very critical, however our experience of working with similarly challenging deadlines stood us in good stead with this project. The team worked around the clock preparing the designs, specification and drawings to allow NBC and their team to bring this to life.

“Traditionally, one decision would inform the other however with this project, all of the decisions and outcomes were occurring simultaneously in the interests of time. We were very happy to collaborate with NBC and deliver an on-time, on-budget concept that excites professional photography customers and delights the global brands that have invested in this site.”

Peter Parnell, managing director of NBC, said: “We had one of the quickest turnaround times that we’ve ever worked with to deliver the Wex store, and credit must go to our contracts manager Ryan Palmer and site manager Tony Palmer for making this happen.

“We employ a team of contractors rather than work with sub-contractors, which enables us to deliver projects like this quickly and effectively.

“The store is a flagship for Wex in the UK and as such we worked with new challenges, such as creating the drone area to make sure that this was accessible for customers whilst ensuring that they couldn’t touch ad potentially damage the products being showcased.

“We have a strong partnership with OSA and we‘re looking forward to collaborating further and visiting the store to see it in operation!”

Wex Photo Video will offer over 1300 different products, including camera bodies and lenses, professional video cameras, drones, photographic lighting, rigging, tripods and accessories.

Wex Chief Customer Officer Louis Wahl said: “Ormerod Sutton’s support in our new flagship Whitechapel store has been instrumental in helping us meet our tight deadline. Their creative designs, careful planning and meticulous attention to detail have helped Wex Photo Video produce quite possibly the country’s best photo retail showroom.”


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