Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Establishment Rocker - Andy Kendrick, Head of Marketing, Virgin Megastores

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Establishment Rocker - Andy Kendrick, Head of Marketing, Virgin Megastores

Article excerpt

As metamorphoses go, it doesn't get much more radical than Andy Kendrick's transformation from shop floor goth to marketing director of the UK's second-biggest specialist music retailer.

The lipstick and black crimped hair have given way to a more conventional 'floppy hair, T-shirt and jeans' look, while youthful dreams of propelling his goth band to fame and fortune have been replaced by a passion for store presentation and customer service.

If this makes the 38-year-old sound dull, nothing could be further from the truth. Colleagues testify to him 'letting loose' at last month's Kerrang!

Awards, hanging out with former Gun's N' Roses guitarist Slash. What's more, Kendrick is determined that Virgin Megastores, which this month celebrates its 25th anniversary, must stand out from its 'bland and boring' high-street competitors.

'Woolworths is like the supermarkets, just selling the charts. Few people know MVC and it's dull, while HMV, although good at what it does, is one-dimensional with its bland white walls,' he claims.

'We've decided to take a stand against all the things that are working against the music industry. We want to focus on what people care about, such as creating debate about what comprises the best music across all categories.'

To break away from the rest of the high street, Kendrick has put in place a five-year plan to gain market leadership and create a real 'shopping experience'. He maintains that Virgin Megastores is no longer just about selling music. It is putting Virgin Mobile zones into stores, and has started selling books and clothing, while its Oxford Street branch recently opened a musical instrument concession in the basement. 'I was actually its first customer - I went in and bought a guitar,' he confesses.

Kendrick's ambitions to develop Virgin Megastores into a 'big brand experience' include an extensive refit for 70 of its 135-strong chain of stores. The refit will implement some radical ideas, such as reducing the amount of floorspace allocated to chart music to make room for a broader range of genres and more space for DVDs. 'We want to give people a reason to go to Virgin as opposed to HMV, MVC or Woolworths,' he says.

To highlight its break with the past, a brand campaign breaking in November will place Virgin Megastores centre stage, with less emphasis on the product and price messages of the past. …

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