An Iconic evolution for Keells

A few short years ago, Whippet helped Keells in Sri Lanka evolve into the modern, progressive supermarket brand it is today. This hugely successful brand transformation formed the basis of an ongoing relationship that has now seen us work on several other key projects for Keells. The latest was to ensure the brand maintains its newfound position as the leader of supermarket innovation in Sri Lanka.

Dubbed ‘Iconic’, this project tasked Whippet with developing a blueprint for a fleet of premium stores to go in select suburbs around Sri Lanka. Not only were these new stores to offer a more premium selection, they were also to serve as innovation centres for the broader Keells fleet.

Colombo Pop, night mode

To help delineate the ‘Iconic’ stores from the core Keells fleet, we explored a new take on the colour scheme we created back in 2017, named ‘Colombo Pop’. Here we dialled up the darkness for a more premium feel, and opted for sleeker, more sophisticated textures and finishes.

To build further on these quality cues and create a hint of a ‘night market’ atmosphere, we also concepted and developed a range of stylish neon navigation and backlit signs for the varying store zones.

Welcome to Keells Kafé

Compared to the core Keells fleet, ‘Iconic’ stores were to have a significantly expanded ready to eat offering, with everything from curries to lasagne, pizza to waffles, fresh juice to ice cream and more, all available in store. Fitting all these features in a tight space was quite tricky, but persistence paid off and we eventually landed on a configuration that made sense.

Presenting food in the best possible light

By redesigning the fresh food bunks to better utilise vertical space, we were able to house considerably more produce without impacting the store footprint. With that innovation locked in, we then explored a range of ways to ensure these bunks always looked full, helping to create a feeling of abundance.

To help the food really shine, we took inspiration from our London office, sourcing the same custom lighting we used for M&S Food in the UK. The degree to which this elevated quality perceptions of the excellent produce on offer can’t be overstated.

A new take on in-store tech

As innovation centres, ‘Iconic’ stores were to introduce Sri Lanka to a raft of new POS tech for the first time namely Scan & Go and Self-Checkout.

To help bring these new initiatives to life, we developed and incorporated a range of POS communications – everything from instructional decals to screen graphics and more.

It’s the little things

To add even more style and flair throughout the store, we developed several premium touches such as a herb mister in the fresh section’s wall chillers, a flower stand at the front of store, and even a bespoke mural painted by a local artist. Individually these additions were subtle, but combined to deliver the feeling of quality our client was looking for.

Finally, we helped Keells invite all the neighbours around to come check out the new premium store with a range of launch material tailored for local residents.

“We have from day one, appreciated your humbleness and genuine willingness to help us grow our brand. This has helped to build a very healthy relationship. So, when we looked to the next phase of the iteration, either in changing the packaging or the “Iconic project” we had no hesitation in reaching out to you.

What was launched in this iteration is as big or even bigger than what we did together in 2017. It has helped us leap frog against the current competition.”

Charitha Subasinghe

President – Retail at John Keells Holdings PLC

The project covered

Store design | 3D modelling and VR | Design asset creation | POS