The biggest Lego Certified Store in the southern hemisphere is set to open at Melbourne Central in April, bringing a slew of new features and experiences to Australian customers.
At 559 square metres, the store will be roughly twice the size of other Lego Certified Stores in the country and will feature the brand’s new store design, which was unveiled in New York City last year and is being rolled out globally.
“It’s going to be a destination,” Richard Facioni, executive chairman of Alquemie Group, which holds the rights to Lego Certified Stores in Australia and New Zealand, told Inside Retail.
“Pre-pandemic, Melbourne Central was one of the highest foot-trafficked centres in the country, and as we come out of the pandemic, it will come back to being one of the highest foot-trafficked centres.”
In addition to popular features that exist in other Lego Certified Stores in Australia and New Zealand, such as the pick-a-brick wall and mini-figure station, the new store will debut a personalisation studio called the Mosaic Maker, where customers can take a photo of themselves in Lego form to commemorate their visit.
It will also offer 3D models of Lego sets and hands-on building experiences to inspire creativity and imagination, alongside a wide range of products.
“There’s a lot of engagement in there,” Facioni said.
Room for growth
The Melbourne Central store is just one of a handful of new Lego Certified Stores that are slated to open in the coming months.
“There will be a couple more openings before June, and then we’d like to see another four to six openings in the second half as well,” Facioni said.
Alquemie Group currently operates 13 Lego Certified Stores across Australia and New Zealand, but plans to grow that number to 25-30 over the next few years.
That could include up to four more stores in New Zealand, and several more stores in metro Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as key regional cities like Geelong.
“We notice plenty of gaps in the network,” Facioni said. “There’s plenty of opportunity to grow the network without stores cannibalising each other.”
At the same time, Lego’s online sales have increased rapidly since Alquemie Group launched a local e-commerce site two years ago.
“It was very rudimentary, but we knew we needed that online presence,” he said. “What we’ve been doing since then is building on that online store, and it now has a full delivery service, customisation and personalisation.”
About 25-30 per cent of sales are now made online, including click-and-collect, which remains popular with customers even though Covid-19 lockdowns have ended.
“It actually has been feeding traffic into the bricks-and-mortar stores because people go online, pre-order their stock, and go pick it up, so they can minimise their time in-store,” he said.
Between the brand’s online growth and new store openings, Facioni expects turnover to hit $100 million by June of this year, a significant milestone seeing as Alquemie Group only teamed up with the toy-maker three years ago.
He credits this to the strength of the partnership: “I’ve always said, the beauty of this partnership is they do all the brand marketing and product development, and our job is to create really amazing retail experiences, whether they’re in-store or online. And it works really really well.”