The new Marks & Spencer site for St Helens is located literally over the road from glass manufacturer Pilkington United Kingdom Limited’s production facility – so it’s appropriate that the firm’s glass will be welcoming customers into the store.
The glass was produced at Pilkington UK’s Alexandra Works site, which supplies projects all over the world, including recent installations in New York, Italy and Qatar.
However, this project was much closer to home – just a few hundred meters away, in fact.
M&S decided to relocate its St Helens store from the town centre to Ravenhead Retail Park, with a refurbished unit that better suits customers changing shopping habits. The new store is an investment in the local community, colleagues, and customers – both current and future. It offers a larger product range, improved layout and is better integrated with M&S’s online services like Click & Collect. It’s also more suited to busy families, with 1,000 car parking spaces, a café and an extended kidswear range.
The storefront makes use of Pilkington Planar™ structural glazing, a frameless system that uses countersunk stainless-steel bolts which sit flush with the external surface of the glass. This minimises their appearance without compromising the integrity of the system. The bolts are connected back to internal vertical glass fins to provide resistance against lateral loads such as the wind.
The two-story façade uses a combination of insulated double-glazed units on the upper floor and laminated single-glazing on the lower level without compromise of appearance.
By including double-glazing in the upper floor, the glazing has been given a lower U-value, so less heat escapes through the glass, ensuring greater thermal efficiency while creating a comfortable space to comply with building regulations.
Pilkington Optiwhite™ true low-iron glass has been used throughout, ensuring that the glazing is close to colourless, giving visitors a view through the shop front to the product displays inside.
Screen printing has been used on the units that sit in front of the steel frame and the space between floors, disguising the building’s structure and providing a clean aesthetic to the façade. This helps draw the eye towards the shopfront displays, creating a more inviting experience for customers.
Pilkington United Kingdom Limited was founded in St Helens in 1826 and it has produced glass in the town ever since. It was there in the 1950s that the company invented the float-glass process, in which a bath of molten tin is used to produce panes that are almost perfectly flat. This is the way glass is produced all over the world to this day.
Jamie Wood, director at Pozzoni Architecture commented: "We are thrilled with the quality of the completed scheme and pleased it has been very well received by the local community."
Gary Stonelake, business development manager for Pilkington Planar™ said: “As a business with almost 200 years of heritage in St Helens, it’s very appropriate that this significant new store for the town features our glass.
“This storefront is another great example of how Pilkington Planar™ allows maximised sight-lines for prospective shoppers while letting natural light deep into building interiors and also delivering impressive energy-saving and safety performance."
David Ayre, Programme Manager at M&S said: “We work hard to make sure our stores look inviting to customers, and that they feel airy and well-lit inside. It’s great that for this store we were able to source the glazing that made this possible from a very local supplier!”