Debenhams prepares for 'store of the future' launch

A new-look Debenhams store will be revealed this week, as the department store chain brings its fresh brand image to the fore.

Debenhams will open a four-storey store as part of a new development at Intu Watford, showcasing several new features including what CEO Sergio Bucher describes as “the most exciting Beauty Hall in the UK”, a prosecco bar, restaurants, and exclusive fashion collections.

Ahead of the opening on 27 September, analysts have been invited to view the store today, and it follows the retailer’s announcement earlier this month that it will be introducing a new brand identity across its estate – a roll-out process which has already started online.

Bucher said that the ‘Debenhams Redesigned’ strategy is part of a tactic to “reinvent the shopping experience for customers” and an overt way showing customers that Debenhams is changing and presenting more reasons to come to a store.

Mid-market department stores in the UK are under pressure, with GlobalData research showing that between 2007 and 2017, Marks & Spencer’s market share dropped from 32.6% to 23%, Debenhams’ share slipped from 16.6% to 14.2% and House of Fraser’s from 8.2% to 7.4%. These declines have been accompanied by a number of store closings. Debenhams recently recruited KPMG to review its estate and assess its future options.

Even market leader John Lewis, which has increased its share to 25% over that ten-year period according to GlobalData, announced tumbling profits earlier this month.

Commenting ahead of today’s analyst tour at Watford, Bucher said: "I am looking forward to showing our vision of the future for Debenhams, with the most exciting Beauty Hall in the UK, and a carefully curated fashion offer across our designer collections together with the best of high street and international brands.

“We are grateful to our partners and all our colleagues for their help in bringing our vision to life, and we look forward to the reaction of our customers."

Debenhams chairman Sir Ian Cheshire described the Watford store as “an important step forward”.

“In challenging times for UK retail, we have a strong team, a solid financial position and clear strategic priorities to help us navigate the market turbulence,” he explained.