By daring to use change as a springboard for renewal! Ever-responsive, the Belgian fashion brand, LolaLiza, has just played a real master card by investing in a new head office, closer to Rue Neuve, the retail nerve centre of Brussels, where all of the company staff now work on the same floor…
2018 has seen many changes for the Appelstein family, which heads up the Belgian fashion brand, LolaLiza: Joachim Rubin is the new CEO appointed by PP Retail Group (with the Appelsteins remaining on the Board) and the group left its former head office in Rue du Marquis for Rue de l’Evêque – making it closer to the pivotal Rue Neuve.
“It’s hard to imagine a better location for being at the heart of the trade – and being cheek by jowl with the retailers (i.e. the companies that sell goods direct to consumers, ed.),” explains Mélanie Dedoncker, Building Director for the past two and a half years at LolaLiza.
In fact it was Mélanie who brought in Alternativ to guide LolaLiza through the process of designing and fitting out their new offices. She came across LolaLiza while surfing the Net.
“We had selected three office fit-out specialists,” she continues, “and we made our choice based on feeling. We have certainly not been disappointed: at every stage of the project we have really appreciated the energy, availability and communication responsiveness of the teams at Alternativ.”
Daring to use open space to boost interaction
The project has brought about a radical change of décor for LolaLiza.
Until the move, the company’s head office was in an anonymous multi-storey building, spread across several floors, with a mishmash locations for the various departments. Now the company is working out of a ground floor extending to 2600 m2, accommodating the creative staff, of course, as well as all of the other parts of the business (HR, finance, marketing, purchasing, logistics, IT, etc.).
LolaLiza has dared to use change as a springboard for renewal.
“We deliberately organised visits by staff to see the new offices, because we were well aware that change and upheaval go hand in hand,” continues an enthusiastic Mélanie Dedoncker. “And as the works progressed, we were able to reassure everyone that we had everything in hand. Then, three weeks from the move, we stopped these visits so that we could create the element of surprise and enhance the ‘wow!’ effect.”
Rue de l’Evêque, where the new head office of LolaLiza is located, is a vast open space, the epitome of a place where everyone can work together, combining the functions of creation, innovation, personal exchanges, logistics, purchasing and storage (especially for samples). Not to mention socialisation and relaxation. And the work zone is intentionally designed to be open so that more interaction can be generated between the various departments.
Communication is king!
“Alternativ talked to each of our departments and clearly grasped the message and our number one requirement,” continues Mélanie.
“Because we needed lots of storage space for all our boxes, fabrics and clothes, the people at Alternativ cleverly found a way to open up the space to improve communication across the board: internally (so that employees could mix with each other more) and externally.
“We now have a gigantic meeting room that can accommodate between 100 and 180 people (standing). They might be senior store managers or suppliers, as well as journalists, fashion bloggers and so on.
We’ve named the space the ‘Fashion Lounge’. It has a rear-projector and is ideal for making things happen, because it clearly amplifies the dynamic of encounter and creativity.
And contrary to our initial fears, the open space environment becomes quiet and productive as soon as everyone is focusing on their work,” she concludes. Mélanie Dedoncker is definitely won over by a project that has given the company new direction, which cultivates a spirit of enterprise – and for which the budget (capped) and timing (tight) were adhered to by Alternativ.