Great article in CPD Specifier discussing the benefits of using IOBAC in different retail environments – new build, refurbishment and pop-up stores.

Check out the article here or read it in full below.


The flooring of a retail space is fundamental to its look, feel and often its success. It not only establishes the foundation upon which successful interior design hinges, but it can create a brilliant first impression and set a positive tone for a customer’s shopping experience. Alternatively, it can leave shoppers unimpressed, underwhelmed, and perhaps wishing they had stayed at home or gone elsewhere.

Paul Woolvine, IOBAC CEO, discusses the company’s magnetic flooring solutions, including MagTabs – recent winner at the National Flooring Innovation Awards 2019 – and its range of magnetically receptive bases, and how both offer a modern alternative to traditional retail flooring solutions.

IOBAC is a forward-thinking company committed to delivering better business outcomes by using its technologies to make floors work harder. Its technologies include magnetic flooring and intelligent flooring, heated flooring and walling, and conductive flooring.

Varied industry calls for flexible flooring

A 2018 Retail Expo report (One vision: how to re-energise retail in 2019 and beyond) of 2,000 UK shoppers revealed that 70 per cent of consumers would go elsewhere – either online or with a competitor – if a retailer didn’t provide an exciting, engaging experience. 63 per cent of shoppers also said they want the places they shop to be inspiring.

Without a doubt, online shopping has elevated consumer expectations in-store and more than ever, customer experience is playing a greater role in consumer behaviour. Couple this with a shift away from building new stores to enhancing existing ones, and it’s clear to see that the coming years will place a greater impetus on quality refurbishment. Flooring will play a pivotal role, having to facilitate quick fit-outs that minimise downtime and keep stores looking fresh and engaging.

The retail flooring industry is also varied. While shopping centres tend to lean more toward aesthetics, supermarkets aim to blend the decorative with the durable to maintain a safe and serviceable environment. Regardless of the space, high footfall is almost always a certainty and something that must be considered during a facility’s design. But supermarkets don’t just need to contend with footfall. There’s also trolley traffic and spillages that can discolour or stain the floor, as well as scuffs and scratches from smashed packaging.

We’ve also seen a record number of brands booking short-term “pop-up” commercial spaces. In 2017, according to EE’s Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy report, the UK’s pop-up industry was estimated to be worth £2.3 billion, accounting for around 0.76 per cent of total retail turnover. As the name suggests, these spaces need to pop-up quickly – overnight in many instances – for maximum impact. Modular loose-lay flooring not only enables speed of install, but also the design agility required for spaces with a high turnover of multiple brands. All of which are looking to stamp their own unique look and feel onto the space.

The problem with traditional retail flooring

The installation of traditional retail flooring solutions can often be time-consuming, with installations potentially spanning weeks rather than hours or days. It can also be hugely expensive in terms of materials used, labour costs, and potential downtime. These are all things that can ultimately be detrimental to a business’ bottom line and, at times, reputation.

And what happens when that floor becomes damaged or needs replacing? It’s likely that a much larger section of flooring will need to be ripped up and replaced, potentially damaging the sub-floor in the process. All of which means more expense and more potential downtime. What’s more, traditional flooring solutions will probably be contaminated by adhesives and therefore unrecyclable and unusable elsewhere.

The IOBAC solution

IOBAC’s MagTabs are small magnetic tabs that can affix to any magnetically receptive sub layer, whether that’s a metal raised access floor, widely used in modern office buildings and data centres, or a metallic base, created by either IOBAC’s Express Cure Resin, proving popular in retail spaces, or magnetic roll-down underlay, designed for temporary, quick solutions (such as pop-up stores).

Express Cure Resin has an extremely fast curing time of between 1-2 hours, making it well-suited for quick projects requiring minimal disruption to business operations. MagTabs can be used with non-magnetic carpet and 4mm+ vinyl tiles and can then be affixed to the sub-layer. As such, retail stores aren’t limited what’s available in the magnetic tile range – MagTabs increase options, enabling most carpet tiles in the world to be installed and multiple floor surface types to be installed seamlessly alongside one another.

Speed of install = minimal downtime

Think about the volume of people visiting your local supermarket or shopping centre on a weekly basis – its flooring can quickly become worn out and tired-looking, or even damaged. And different types of flooring in different areas of a store are also likely to degrade at different rates. It may be a thoroughfare for large pallets, or a café having to withstand the scraping of chairs and tables. Whatever the reason, certain sections of flooring will need replacing at different times.

It’s therefore vital that flooring can be replaced quickly and easily, without the need for ripping up large – or even whole – sections of flooring. That’s what loose lay methods like MagTabs enable: the ability to simply peel up and replace individual tiles in a matter of minutes or hours rather than days – and with minimal disruption to operations, customers and employees. While traditional uplift and installation might take around three nights, for instance, IOBAC magnetic flooring allows shop floors to be ready for re-merchandising after just one night. This is especially important in the hectic 24-hour-a-day retail world where time is money. The speed and ease with which individual tiles can be replaced also minimises loss of revenue through future maintenance works.

One such example comes from a grocery store in the US where IOBAC magnetic flooring was installed. While the main thoroughfare of the aisles had become worn out, the flooring beneath the gondolas remained in near perfect condition. As such, floor tiles from the aisle were quickly and easily swapped with those under the gondolas, thus refreshing the look and feel of the store while increasing the lifecycle of the floor.

And with MagTabs, in the case of a complete re-fit, the process is a clean one, leaving behind no residue or contamination. These tiles can then be taken away and used elsewhere or sustainably recycled, which is crucial in today’s environmentally conscious society. It also comes with an added ongoing tax saving due to the top surface being classed as removable, which is a handy bonus for store and facility managers.

Magnetic attraction through design freedom

When it comes to flooring, rarely does one size fit all, especially in the retail sector. For supermarkets’ main concourses, for instance, a more hard-wearing finish is preferable, whereas areas where customers are more likely to stop and take in their surroundings – like cafés and checkouts – need to have more of an aesthetic quality.

MagTabs’ compatibility with multiple floor surface types – magnetically-backed or not – offers design agility and means flooring can be regularly and easily updated to remain in-keeping with different occasions – Christmas and Easter, for example – or different marketing campaigns and pop-up spaces.

Moreover, being able to flexibly and regularly change displays, fittings and spaces is central to creating innovative experiences that keep an organisation’s brand relevant.

Adapt or die

It’s undoubtedly a tricky time for retail stores. Just this January the Independent declared that we’re “witnessing the death of the high street” following news that Philip Green’s Arcadia empire was safe from bankruptcy, but not without big job losses at its head office. While I think that’s somewhat of an overstatement, the message is plain for all to see: retail stores must adapt or die. Shoppers, more than ever, need to be enticed into store. Unique, experiential interior design is one way of doing this and retail stores’ flooring is central to achieving it. Besides the aesthetic benefits, retail stores can also ill-afford costly installs, prolonged downtime and unenvironmentally-friendly solutions. For all of these reasons and more, we’re committed to altering people’s understanding of what flooring is and what can be done with it, but never at the expense of business results. We believe in a better way; the IOBAC way.