Leica Camera Ltd recently celebrated the opening of its second store in London. The Leica Store Burlington is located in Burlington Arcade, the iconic runway uniting Piccadilly and Bond Street. We sat down with David Bell, Managing Director at Leica Camera Ltd, to discuss this new retail location and get the inside scoop on what’s to come in the UK.
Q: What made you choose Burlington Arcade as a location for Leica’s second store in the UK?
A: Burlington Arcade is an iconic retail destination that welcomes four million visitors a year. Leica has found a welcome home among exceptional objects that are showcased in a historical setting, a setting that is often heralded as an architectural masterpiece. I’m delighted we’re here.
Q: For our readers who are not familiar with Burlington Arcade, what else can they look forward to discovering?
A: Lush and quirky specialist stores. I always love looking at the Fabergé eggs, First World War Rolex watches, David Linley designs and browsing the pen shop.
Q: What can customers expect when they walk into the Leica Store Burlington?
A: A warm and knowledgeable welcome, as well as news of the latest Leica limited editions.
Q: The Leica Store Burlington is located a stone’s throw away from the Leica Store Mayfair; can you tell us more about this destination?
A: On Bruton Place, customers can find the Leica Store Mayfair, Leica Akademie, Leica Studio-S and Café Optik.
The Leica Store Mayfair offers the whole range of current Leica products. Located just above it, the Leica Akademie has educational workshops for photographers of all levels. The Studio-S is a beautiful double height white space with wonderful natural light or blackout option. It features make-up and changing facilities. The studio is available for hire and is often used for discreet VIP photography. We do not reveal the identity of the personalities who are being photographed there, as much as I sometimes wish I could!
The Café Optik is our creative hub. Leica owners gather there and discuss their photography whilst perusing our books. They can get their sensors cleaned and receive technical advice and recommendations from our expert technicians. We’ve started to also build a reputation for our outstanding lattes and cappuccinos!
Q: Do you have future retail plans that you can share with us?
A: Well, this year, you might very well see Leica appearing in other high footfall premium or artisan locations across London…
Q: How do the stores interact with the photography community in the UK?
A: Our Cafe Optik is increasingly becoming a hub for Leica photographers. For example, we’re delighted that the Leica MEET has decided to kick off their next event there.
Since digital photography has taken such a prominent role in the imaging industry, photographers are no longer meeting at labs. I’m pleased to see that we are providing them with alternatives — the Café Optik is a place where they are welcome to get together. We’ve also seen great exchanges and collaborations emerging from interactions in the Studio-S and at the Akademie.
Q: What are you most excited about with Leica’s 100 Years?
A: Our new, ultra-modern factory/HQ in Wetzlar is a game changer for Leica. Leitz Park takes us to the next level and I very much look forward to being part of its grand opening in May. And I haven’t even been inside yet!
Q: Is there any particular story or anecdote in your years with Leica that you can share with us?
A: I have worked with Leica for six years now and I consider myself privileged to have witnessed major events and corporate announcements in Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris and, of course, during photokina.
I particularly recall my first photokina with Leica. Our press conference was in full swing with over 200 journalists from around the world using translation headphones to follow the speeches and new product announcements.
Announcements stopped for the solo performance of a French horn player. The look on journalists’ faces … a French horn solo performance taking place in the midst of a product press conference! Only Leica. In the 35 years of my professional life, it remains the only press conference I remember so vividly.
Thank you for your time, David!
– Leica Internet Team