It’s been a long wait for fans of LEGO based in the Midlands of the UK for the return of a LEGO Store in the second city. But today saw that wait come to an end with the opening of the new LEGO Store in Birmingham, UK!
Team Jedi News were invited along to a preview evening to experience the LEGO Groups latest store first-hand. So, Amor Lamine joined me for the evening to preview the new store.
A short queue of invited guests formed next to a small door to the side of the hoardings advertising the coming of the new store. All were eagerly awaiting the door to open almost like a LEGO advent calendar to display its array of wears. At 6pm promptly, said door promptly swung open for us to be greeted by a member of the store team to welcome us in.
First impressions last and while the layout and look are very familiar to most of us, the size of the store took me by surprise. It’s wider than the usual format and the unit occupied allows the store to be much deeper due to a deviation in angle towards the rear of the store. This can only mean one thing, more room for awesome displays and shelf space for stock to purchase.
On entry were asked to take part in the ‘make and take’ event of building a LEGO bull. Now, for those who don’t know the significance of the bull to Birmingham, it comes from the shopping mall known as the ‘Bull Ring’ where LEGO now resides. It was built on the site of a grassy area where there was a metal ring which the bulls were tied to before being traded. Hence the name Bull Ring. History lesson over, the build comprises of 13 steps and 64 elements and makes for a great little collector item. This is available to build during the upcoming Grand Opening events.
In attendance were Marius Lang, LEGO Group Head of Marketing for UK/Ireland and Stéphane Knapp, LEGO Group Senior Marketing Director, who were both happy to discuss the reasons for coming back to Birmingham and their hopes for what LEGO can bring to the city.
Stéphane started by saying “Birmingham is the UK’s second city and bringing a LEGO store back to Birmingham was opportunity too good to miss. The Bull Ring is iconic in the area and the prominent location and the size of the store was also key.” Marius continued “Retail has been tough in the UK recently, but we wanted to make a commitment to the area and more importantly the toy industry.”
We then moved on to discuss the ‘Rebuild the World’ campaign. “The Bull ‘make and take’ we are offering for customers to make here is an example of what can be achieved with imagination and LEGO” explained Marius. “Children need to have their creative mind stimulated and LEGO is a way of doing just that. These are top skills that we are going to need in industry in the future. Studies show the types of jobs that most children who are currently in nursery classes will occupy in adult life, do not exist yet, so this is very important to the company, but also future business.” Stéphane went on to add, “We want to encourage that creativity, but we also want to involve the parents and families in this learning. Creativity is something we value very highly, but sometimes as we get older as adults we forget or lose these skills and ideas. The latest video spots for the campaign highlight this. In the Star Wars advert for example, you see a Stormtrooper shooting, but he is not fighting the Rebels, he is on a fairground attraction on the Death Star, shooting wooden ducks and wins a balloon. This how we see children creating this in their minds and bringing it to life with LEGO.”
Stéphane then finished by talking of the pride in working for LEGO and in the industry. “We have some very innovative things coming next year and we are especially excited about the braille bricks for visually impaired people around the globe. We are very proud of these developments and want to continue innovating and creating in new ways.”
Having 2 attendees of the stature of Marius and Stéphane proved to me how seriously LEGO are taking this new venture. Speaking as a self-confessed AFOL, our region has missed LEGO’s presence for the past 10 years and seeing it revived stops me having to make 150-mile round trips to visit my closest stores in Manchester, Sheffield and Milton Keynes. I am so pleased to say that distance is now reduced to a mere 30-mile round trip and only a 30-minute journey by public transport.
LEGO have recently invested heavily in their ‘Rebuild the World’ campaign and this is prominently on show in store. Another campaign which the shop is promoting in the weeks before Christmas is ‘Build to Give’ and this is such a simple, but powerful concept. Just build a model from the elements provided, anything you want but preferably Christmas related. Place it on the Christmas tree stand in store, photograph it and post it on social media along with the hashtag #buildtogive. Collect your sticker from a member of the store team and for every build entered by customers, LEGO Group will give a LEGO set to an under privileged child. This is a brilliant initiative and is now running for the second year. This year, LEGO have set a target to give away in excess of 1 million sets, so even if you just visit to browse the shop, please take time to engage with this promotion. It’s free to take part and it is beneficial to those in need.
I can’t go any further without giving a shout out to the staff in store. I must admit, some of the new staff are in for a baptism of fire, but it was great to talk them and gauge their enthusiasm for LEGO. There is plenty of that enthusiasm in abundance and I am sure that with the support of their more experienced colleagues, they will be a resounding success. I for one will be a regular visitor to my new ‘local’ store.
A good night was had by all who attended and everyone was given a goodie bag to take home with them. Each goodie bag consisted of an Iron Man mini-figure polybag, LEGO Shop Exclusive set, an exclusive Birmingham Store brick, catalogues and promotional material.
Team Jedi News would like to the everyone involved at LEGO Group and LEGO PR UK for inviting us along to be part of this event and wish them every success for the Birmingham, UK store.
The Birmingham LEGO Store is now open for business as usual from today, so please make sure you head over and check it out when you are next in the area.