Authentic Fossil, inauthentic Newcastle

Screenshot of Fossil UK website (27 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

Screenshot of Fossil UK website (27 Aug 2010)

I was interested to read in Retail Week last week about the accessories and fashion chain Fossil planning to expand its UK store portfolio, but slightly perplexed to note that it “already operates shops in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle [emphasis added], Bristol, Glasgow.”

For someone who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of Newcastle city centre retail, I was disturbed to think that I’d somehow missed there being a Fossil store! Further investigation to get to the bottom of this was duly required.

It didn’t take long to find the answer. Visiting the UK Fossil website soon revealed that the shop it refers to as ‘Fossil Store Newcastle’ is actually at the MetroCentre – in Gateshead – somewhere that I visit less frequently. A quick look at the MetroCentre store guide told me that the shop is on the lower level of the trendy Central Mall, opposite Republic and next to Superdry.

Though I was able to solve the mystery, it still begs the question of why the shop – whose logo, ironically, includes the slogan ‘Authentic Fossil’ – is referred to as ‘Fossil Store Newcastle’. These geographical liberties may go over the heads of executives in London or the United States, but it’s guaranteed to irritate a significant proportion of Gateshead’s 190,000 inhabitants.

It must also be confusing for shoppers – if a store is actually at MetroCentre, most people would expect it to be badged as such. After all, as the (reputedly) largest shopping centre in Europe, MetroCentre is hardly an insignificant retail location.

Of course, it isn’t just Fossil that has adopted the bad habit of being liberal with its store naming. Debenhams originally referred to its MetroCentre store as ‘Newcastle’, only renaming it ‘Gateshead’ once it opened its actual store in Newcastle earlier this year. Equally, much as I like Clas Ohlson, I can imagine there being some gnashing of teeth about its upcoming Merry Hill store – in Dudley – being badged as ‘Birmingham’.

It may only be a label, but I do think it’s unfortunate – particularly for the place being snubbed – if a retailer in one location purports, through ignorance or design, to be situated somewhere else.

What do you think? Are you similarly irritated by geographically erroneous store labels? Or is it a minor detail that only bothers retail geeks? As always, please feel free to add your thoughts – or any other good examples of the location-stretching genre.

2 Responses to “Authentic Fossil, inauthentic Newcastle”

  1. beth said:

    Aug 30, 10 at 22:58

    oh no, it drives me mad too. gateshead and newcastle are not the same place.

  2. Paul Gilligan said:

    Sep 16, 10 at 16:33

    I couldn’t agree more with you Graham and I think you are entirely right to pick up on these inaccuracies. It is pure spin as part of a branding and image exercise and will always cause offence to the ‘snubbed’ party.

    Some time ago I read that Molton Brown had relocated to a new headquarters somewhere in rural hertfordshire. When I investigated I found that they were actually in the old Elsenham Jam Factory in Elsenham which is in Essex. Their conceit is based upon their full postal address where their postal town is Bishops Stortford, which is in Hertfordshire (or at least part if the town is). Just because the sorting office from which their post is distributed is in Hertfordshire and their address rightly reflects that it doesn’t mean that they are in Hertfordshire.

    As an Essex boy I was massivley offended and now no longer buy their products.

    Elsenham Jam, you may be interested to know, is still sold but is now made in Wales… not sure how I feel about that!

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