St Pancras – A Review

Our lovely new bookshop at St Pancras has recently had an excellent review by 20.20, a strategic design business based in Camden. Aside from being a flattering compliment from a local company, it serves as an excellent update on our progress over the last month. To take a look at the review, and many more, visit:

They said:

‘Balancing brand heritage with industry innovation is a challenge we often embrace here at 20.20. So, as the oldest bookshop in London opens its doors anew in St Pancras, we wonder how this retailer has learned from experience to move with the times.

Hatchards has been a well-loved destination for books for over two hundred years, having neighboured Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly since the 18th century. Now owned (but not dominated) by literary powerhouse Waterstones, Hatchards has taken the opportunity to open a second store at St Pancras International station in lieu of Foyles, which closed its doors on the busy concourse earlier this year. And guess what? It has (rather romantically) set up shop right next to Fortnum & Mason’s second store.

When 20.20 reimagined an independent bookshop for this Intelligent Life article, we designed a multi-functional space full of printing presses, beautiful hardbacks, curated paperbacks and downloadable content for the ebook generation.

So, how has Hatchards adapted to the Amazon era? It may seem at first as though it hasn’t – but flashy screens are rarely a good measure of robust retail character.

Hatchards is concentrating on experience, on personality, and on product. And it delivers in spades.


Taking cues from the beautiful architecture of the station, the store design uses homely fixtures and warm lighting to provide a relaxed backdrop for browsing until your train departs. While much of its traffic must be transient, Hatchards recognises that it takes more than ambience to keep people coming back. Regular activities take place here, with high profile book signings keeping limited stock in demand for weeks afterwards. You can also grab coffee and a cake to nourish your belly while you nourish your brain.


Store assistants can be a shop’s greatest asset. Highlighting staff picks by publishing their opinions (in their own handwriting) provides information, navigation and reassurance for customers, who may be more likely to approach colleagues once this dialogue has been opened. It also keeps colleagues feeling valued, and therefore motivated. Inspiration is provided by bookish quotes that help to curate the selection, providing character and a conspiratorial bond between brand and browser.


This is a store that knows its customer. An extensive travel section mixes city guides with city literature to provide inspiration for the intrepid, and large sections are devoted to the main cultures serviced by Eurostar. With a focus on beautiful editions on the shelves and an abundance of novellas around the tills, Hatchards is balancing the needs of customers well, selling books to treasure as well as books for the train.

And what of technology? For many, a bookshop is a break from our fast-paced lives, and a breather from technology is often a blessing. However, if you’re anything like me and you know the name of the book but not the author, sorting books alphabetically by surname isn’t enough. A search function could save the frustration of scouring shelves for something specific, and it may be an easier interaction for overseas travellers not keen on practising their English, no matter how willing and informed the staff.

Much is made of the decline of the printed word. But if Hatchards proves anything, it’s that there is something very special about the experience of getting lost in a book while the world stands still around you. Even if the world is rushing for a train’.

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