Last fall, Heidelberg (Germany) saw the opening of Leopold, a store that mixes nostalgic details with modern ambience. The store attracts men with an assortment ranging from denim and casual wear from Roy Robson and Alberto, among others, up to formal wear, leisure as well as selected green fashion brands such as KOI. Coffee and sounds of the Beatles and leather-covered seats complete the arrangement on a total space of 178sqm. Here, Nino Leidinger explains how he and his team create an atmosphere in which customers feel good and come back because they are comfortable. 

Insight view of Leopold
Photo: Leopold
Insight view of Leopold

To what extent does the description “dedicated retailer” suit you?

The description suits me and my whole team very well as it is different than for a food retailer. They just unlock the doors in the morning and the customers come because they need food.

We create an atmosphere so our clients like coming to us and “experience something” on a daily basis. We give honest and individual advice with charm and esprit. We stay true to ourselves and always give our honest opinion. We don’t want to disguise anyone – we want our customers to feel well and to come back because they are comfortable.

What’s your background? Are you from the fashion industry?

Only who meets their customer at eye-level will remain a good dialogue partner and retailer long-term. Customers don’t buy out of pity, they want a fair trade where both sides profit from. As a retailer we offer good products as well as good service and we all should stand by it. Live values - don't just talk about them.

Of course, I gained this knowledge from my 18 years in retail. The past few years I was looking after a big team and numerous subsidiaries. Here, we also looked for the best solutions and worked on them daily. Not all days are the same in the retail business.

You opened your new store in October 2016. What is special about the shop fitting and design? Which are the core pieces of the store?

Friendly, bright, comfortable. The interior also pairs fine yarns with rough industrial looks, white lacquer with a diesel engine. On 178 sqm with 8 big art nouveau windows, we created an experience with the shopfitter. We play with real, authentic materials like glass, metal, exposed stone walls and wood – with a lot of extras like an old DDR motorcycle as an atmospheric exhibition piece or a comfortable lounge area with high-back couches and a record player. Also, it was important for us to have enough space in the cabins for the customers; they’re bigger than the standard ones. I am especially proud of the nomination for the Store of the Year award 2017.

Describe your assortment: What are the anchor brands? Which brands did you recently add to your offer?

In total, we have 21 suppliers listed who cover all of the leisure and business department. We have newcomers like Avour and Brembach Fliegen but also renowned suit manufacturers like Roy Robson or Club of Gents.

But in the upcoming months first changes will be made there and the current menswear only assortment will be expanded by womenswear. Based on our customers/market analysis we will also change something in the supplier list.

What do you think about fast fashion? What percentage of the assortment does it represent? 

I really appreciate it, and it will be my personal goal for the next few months. In the past years I was very successful with it and I will also implement it here. I’m looking forward to react quickly to trends and to offer “latest drops” to our customers.


Lounge area at Leopold's
Photo: Leopold
Lounge area at Leopold's

Please name 5 products you couldn’t live without right now.

-       pullovers with a high wool content

-       suits with high wearing comfort and fit accuracy

-       jeans, denim in general

-       sportive jackets

-       felt bow-ties

How important are trade fairs to you? Which ones do you visit? Where do you find your inspiration?

To me, fairs are for information exchange with colleagues and, especially important, for communication with my existing and new suppliers. I visit fairs in Berlin like: Panorama, Premium, Bright. I use those visits to get inspired and to take pictures. I use all of that paired with magazines like Vogue for staying informed. I also do online research on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & Co.

To what extent do you agree with the statement “An online shop is a necessary sales engine for stationary retail”?

First off, what’s going wrong in the stores is that consultation is a matter of luck because there’s too little staff or the staff is otherwise engaged, the stores seem dusty and not inviting. The chance to actively animate clients to buy another item is missed, as well as the potential of an own website. The majority of retailers is not able to successfully present the added value of a website to their customers. Many try to but they fail to implement their online presence successfully and consequently – the online shops are dusty as well.


Inside view of the store
Photo: Leopold
Inside view of the store

What makes your stores special? What is the USP?

 My store is special because I exemplify the retailer mentality for my team and by that, my team is highly motivated. We don’t talk about it, we do it every day. We have a lounge with 2 high-back couches, a record player and an mp3 player where customers or their waiting company can listen to one of the numerous records of something from the playlist. In addition, all of our customers get a coffee, espresso, champagne of mineral water so they feel welcome. All of that invites our clients to stay and takes away any tension.

Furthermore, we offer a tailor service which makes it possible to execute alterations in just few hours. It’s also important to us that we can offer a quick and professional service to tourists.

What are the biggest challenges in stationary retail right now?

Stationary retailers need to incorporate changes and trends in the consumer behavior for their future orientation. For example, one can assume that price-conscious and well-informed consumers will stay acting “Hybrid” through buying at cheap discounters as well as at chic boutiques. As a retailer, it’s important not to start discount battles that do more harm than good.

The strive for individuality and standing out from the crowd will increase, as well as the search for social contacts and sociability. In addition, the number of customers looking for leisure and entertainment has increased, which leads to a further increase of the shop floors in stationary retail. The staging of shopping experiences will need more space than sales areas.

Many challenges have to be faced. Given the fact of decreasing sales in addition to a shrinking, aging population with strong regional disparities, changed consumption habits and demands, requirements have to be met.

Which is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?

The base of many successful retailers is a strict client orientation. The leading principle of customer focus means for the retailer, to permanently emphasize with the customer to scrutinize the own offer. In this context, topics like emotionalization, value proposition and individualization or also services and take greater significance.  Live values - don't just talk about them.

Store contact:
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 27
69117 Heidelberg