We talked to Steve Collis, founder of JHP Design, about retail design consultancy, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Steve Collis: We are fine. My wife is a photographer and shoots ‘outside’ so has kept busy throughout. Our kids have been homeschooling (ish).
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined JHP Design.
Steve Collis: I joined our practice in 1986 as strategic Director and took it over as CEO in 2002. A lot has changed – Drawing boards have turned into Computers and where all our work was in the UK it is now truly global
How does JHP Design innovate?
Steve Collis: By being able to think like any and every customer. Think of films like ‘Big’ or ‘What women want’. One day I have to imagine that I am a woman buying Lingerie, the next a man buying Golf clubs (I don’t play golf and I don’t wear lingerie!)
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Steve Collis: Badly. We design for experiences where people cross paths and congregate. You name it – Events for SAMSUNG, Restaurants, Cinemas, Airport stores, Auditoria, Great Stadiums, Markets, Theatres. Essentially everything we touch was ‘turned off’, although things are just now beginning to recover.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Steve Collis: Cut fast, cut deep, cut early. This was all about survival.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Steve Collis: We are Zen Zoom masters. Strangely we feel closer to our clients now than we did when we could meet them in person which involves so much ritual and formality. Indeed there are now one or two that I have only met through the screen!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Steve Collis: Furlough has been fundamental to our survival.
Your final thoughts?
Steve Collis: Our studio is now virtual with us all meeting once a month for a Big Friday very long working lunch. This is more for hugs and happiness than anything else because we have found that working remotely has enhanced efficiency, productivity and I hate to say it, creativity! Young designers feel more comfortable creating ideas and e-mailing them to me from the protection of their own home than talking up in some brainstorming session in a meeting room.
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