Debenhams fights back
Ideas, strategy and execution for all to see in the Uxbridge Store
It must be pretty dark days at Debenhams with the recent announcement of plummeting profits – a 84.6% nosedive of profits before tax in the first half of the financial year, to be exact. The potential closure of 10 stores and one of its distribution centres. And the loss of CFO Matt Smith to Selfridges is the icing on a rather sorry looking cake.
However, Debenhams is attempting to fight back with chief executive Sergio Bucher announcing plans of self-help. Not for himself we understand, though given the above he may feel the need, but for the company:
The Debenhams Redesigned strategy refers to the use of partners to reposition the retail chain’s 165 stores as ‘destination shops’, bringing restaurants, cafes, blow-dry bars, brow grooming, juice bars and such like to Debenhams shoppers.
This focus recognises the importance of the shopper experience to the in-store environment.
Shoppers are looking for more than just somewhere to come to make a purchase. After all they can do this online without leaving the house. Retailers have seen the demise of the likes of Toys “R” Us failing to offer shoppers an experience that will entice them away from internet shopping, and are recognising that to get people through the door, and ultimately, stay in business, they must adapt and provide their customers with more than mere product.
However, Debenhams Redesigned is not just about challenging online shopping sales and moving shoppers away from their computers.
Not surprisingly, Bucher who came from Amazon, is using his online experience to the advantage of Debenhams, with plans to overhaul their website and entice shoppers through this medium. With 25% of click and collect visits leading to another purchase in-store, a strengthened web offering can only be good news for the stores as well, and Bucher recognises this.
Already Debenhams has had some online success, generating £1m in online sales when it exclusively launched Kat von D’s make up range to the UK market. It is expected that Bucher will continue this strategy with other online exclusive beauty launches, particularly targeting millennials.
What will become of Debenhams? Certainly, it is a hard time to be a chain department store in the UK. And Debenhams particularly is struggling to recover from its history of discounting. But their strategy to create destination shops is in line with what millennial shoppers are demonstrating they want out of a store. Will Debenhams succeed? Maybe. Maybe not. But if they do go down, it won’t be without a jolly good fight.
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