The Lab

A food and design lab nestled in a restaurant.


The Challenge

How might we revive retail and make Shams a regional leader in food innovation?

Shams El Balad is a pioneering restaurant in the Arab World reinventing local food. Shams hired me to reinvent their struggling retail shop and help make them a regional leader in food innovation.

The Outcome

We set up a customer-facing research and design lab at the shop to develop new product lines that were as pioneering as the restaurant - this resulted in an 888% increase in retail sales.


Shams El Balad


Lab strategy
Team hiring and leadership
Product development
Packaging design
Ecommerce support

This is Shams El Balad

They tasked me with building a design-led research lab to revive retail sales and make Shams a regional leader in food innovation.

increase in retail revenue from the lab’s products

We held seasonal markets to launch new products and test those in development.

We held seasonal markets to launch new products and test those in development.

Go to Research process
Step 1

Analysing retail sales and understanding customer needs.

I analyzed retail data for the last year to better understand why the shop was struggling. There were many products that didn’t fit Shams’s core mission and consignees that were under-performing.

We surveyed and interviewed our customers to better gather how to cater to their needs.

Customer Insights

More than 50% of customers didn’t know about the shop!

Those that did wanted to see more local, unique products they couldn’t find elsewhere.

Restaurant visitors were mainly 27-40 years old but the shop’s were 50+.

Step 2

Brand uplift

We uplifted the brand to feel younger and more contemporary by adding three new colours and uplifting the logo.

Step 3

Hundreds of experiments to create the best products.

The Lab worked with the chefs, local suppliers, a food scientist and designers to create unique products, expressive of the local terroir, and that our customers would love.

Step 4

Thought leadership to cement Shams’s reputation.

We created special events such as markets and flash sales to exhibit and share our work.We also posted our research on the website.

Go to final outcome