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Nokia flagship boutique coming to London?

Nokia is opening its second handset mega-boutique in Chicago, and a London version is likely to follow soon

Keep an eye on London’s West End — it seems a luxurious Nokia flagship store could be on its way.

The handset vendor will open its second boutique on Saturday in Chicago, staffed by "highly trained graduates of Nokia’s award-winning Nokia Academy program".  The first opened in Moscow at the start of the year.

Nokia’s strategy is to create a "low-pressure environment where you can spend time learning stuff without feeling retail pressure," according to the company’s UK communications head, Mark Squires.

He pointed out that the multiple functions offered by the modern handset, which can be a video recorder, camera and music player — as well as a phone — means "the need for information is much more than ever".

"The point is to have the excitement and have employees walk you through new devices and technology. We will be putting key products in the company there – the products that lead technology," said Squires, adding: "When you’re the sixth most valuable brand in the world, you need to take these steps otherwise you’re not fulfilling your role as a leader in the marketplace."

A further rationale for the flagship store strategy was provided on Friday by Cliff Crosbie, Nokia’s director of global retail and trade marketing, who said an important goal was "to determine the most impactful methods of retailing Nokia’s product line, and sharing those learnings across Nokia’s retail and operator channels".

Squires would not be drawn on the specifics of a UK flagship store, but confirmed that major international shopping destinations such as Paris, Milan, London and Hong Kong were likely to be targeted in the next couple of years.

"It’s a question of picking the right places and making sure they’re in a situation that suits their prestige," he told ZDNet UK on Friday. Given the specifications of the existing flagship stores, this suggests that a London shop could be more Bond Street than Oxford Street.

Nokia said on Friday that visitors to the Chicago store will encounter "a carefully crafted retail environment ringed with state-of-the-art multimedia displays", which "interactively walks guests through the features and benefits of a wide range of Nokia products and even allow them to send text messages that can then be seen on not only the local store displays, but in other Nokia Flagship Store locations around the world".

Those who prefer to rise above the masses can head for a "store-in-a-store" selling Nokia’s premium Vertu line, which offers "individually hand crafted" handsets encrusted in sapphire crystals, ruby bearings, fine leather, polished ceramic, gold, and titanium.