Sustainability, experience drive Harding’s immersive retail program onboard Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

From accessories (top) to necessities (above), the retail offer onboard Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady from Harding are “adult-by-design,” experiential and focused on sustainability.

Sustainability and experience are driving the collaborative retailing partnership between Global travel retail and cruise retail specialist Harding and Virgin Voyages onboard the Scarlet Lady, whose maiden voyage sailed from Portsmouth on Friday, August 6.

Set over 550 sq-meters of retail space, Harding’s immersive on- board retail experience includes a pioneering approach to sustainability. Harding also uses its in-depth market insights to target the new cruise customer to whom Virgin Voyages is catering.

Harding has worked alongside Virgin Voyages for the past four years to develop its innovative approach to cruise retailing, it reports. Collaborating tightly on the initial concept stages and store designs, it also focused on project management and visual merchandising to create a host of innovative ‘adult-by-design’ retail spaces, resulting in a shopping sanctuary at sea for the 18+ traveler.

As a direct result of extensive guest surveys, focus groups and key brand roadshows and partner-ship discussions, Harding is exclusively targeting a curious and ‘craver’ experience-led demographic. The result is “spaces are unlike any immersive brand solutions that Harding has created before,” says the company.

Both Harding and Virgin Voyages embody an inherent focus on sustainability, so steering an ecologically aware retail experi-ence was a priority.

Harding and Virgin Voyages have also made a commitment to reduce single-use paper and plastic through the supply and distribution chain onboard, including bags. Only if a customer requires a bag will they be given one, and when this is the case, Turtle bags or paper bags will be made available. Reusable shoppers are also available from B Corp certified Apolis, with the production of their bags providing a fair wage to workers in Bangladesh.

Harding has introduced an innovative array of materials, textures and colors to create a series of theatrical and ultra-modern retail spaces for their retail boutiques.

They also added new categories to retail at sea such as its vinyl store and karaoke studio.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady features a vinyl store and karaoke studio that will offer an exclusive limited-edition red vinyl of The Sex Pistols LP that will be available from launch, and 30% of the sales will go to Ocean Unite, one of the sustainability organizations that Virgin supports.

One highlight is an exclusive limited-edition red vinyl of The Sex Pistols LP that will be available from launch. Only 1,000 copies will be offered and 30% of the sales will go to Ocean Unite. Ocean Unite works to unify and amplify key ocean messages and engage decision-makers through the Ocean Unite Network. The organization works towards achieving its vision of strongly protecting at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 through a network of highly protected marine areas and building ocean resilience. Because the ocean is Everybody’s Business, they also work with companies to highlight the importance of the ocean and encourage them to invest in ocean resilience and regeneration.

With a Trinity Partnership approach that puts Sailor’s top of mind, the main ‘traditional tax and duty free’ categories have also been modified to include more than 50 curated ‘first-at-seas’ including Vivienne Westwood, Davines, Kat Maconie, and MAC Cosmetics. Harding is also exclusively scooping Chanel at sea with its Les Eaux collection.

James Prescott, Managing Director of Harding, comments: “With operations in the US, UK, and Europe, working with Virgin Voyages over the last four years and through the COVID pause on such an important journey for both our brands – and cruise retail as a whole – has been an incredible experience.

 “Bolstered by Harding’s global presence, we’re looking forward to working closely with the Virgin Voyages team as we embark on Scarlet Lady’s maiden voyage and as we look to curate more innovative retail experiences. We are also looking forward to the launch of both Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady in the near future, where we are curating further enhancements relevant to Sailors.”

Sally Barford, Virgin Voyages adds: ‘Harding have been a fantastic partner and really helped us out the boundaries of the retail offering on cruise ships. We challenged the team to help us curate a bold and refreshingly different collection of brands that offer our Sailors the flexibility and diversity of the high street at sea.”