Harding Travel Retail leads epic sea change for cruise retail on board Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady

Harding, the global travel retail and cruise retail specialist, is excited to reveal thrilling details about its collaborative partnership with Virgin Voyages, creating an innovative approach to cruise retailing, with Scarlet Lady’s maiden voyage from Portsmouth today, Friday 6 August.

Set over 550m² of retail space, the immersive on board experience sets out another radical step-change for Harding within cruise retail including a pioneering approach to sustainability. Harding also aim to make the most of their unrivalled market insight to target an entirely new cruise customer that’s right and relevant for the Virgin Voyages brand.

Over the past four years, Harding has worked tirelessly alongside Virgin Voyages, realising their cruise line partner’s ambition for retail from the get-go. Collaborating tightly on the initial concept stages and store designs to project management and visual merchandising, a host of innovative ‘adult-by-design’ retail spaces have been created, enabling a shopping sanctuary at sea for the 18+ traveller.

Exclusively targeting a curious and ‘craver’ experience-led demographic, the spaces are unlike any immersive brand solutions that Harding has created before, coming as of a direct result of extensive guest surveys, focus groups and key brand roadshows and partnership discussions.

With a focus on sustainability being inherent to both Harding and Virgin Voyages, the desire to steer an ecologically aware retail experience was also factored highly.

Harding and Virgin Voyages have also made a commitment to reduce single-use paper and plastic through the supply and distribution chain on board, 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.

Boasting theatrical and ultra-modern retail spaces, Harding has introduced an innovative array of materials, textures and colours to create a series of amazing retail boutiques, adding new categories to retail at sea such as vinyl.

Vinyl

Working in close partnership with Virgin Voyages to turn the volume up to 11, an on board vinyl store and karaoke studio have been created. Guaranteed to get music lovers in a spin, an exclusive limited-edition red vinyl of The Sex Pistols LP will also be available from launch, of which there are only 1,000 copies available with 30% of the sales going to Ocean Unite. Ocean Unite works to unify and amplify key ocean messages and engage decision-makers through the Ocean Unite Network. The organisation 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 given the shake-down with over 50 curated ‘first-at-seas’ including Vivienne Westwood, Davines, Kat Maconie, and MAC Cosmetics. Harding also gets the exclusive scoop at sea from Chanel on their 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