Florence & Fred’s planned West End store will test whether the brand can stand on its own feet without the Tesco machine.
Loads going on this week, with the traditional M&S Summer drinks last night attracting an eclectic mixture of retail’s great and good, while in today’s magazine we reveal two big stories, firstly that Paul Antoniadis, the man heading Best Buy’s launch into the UK, is leaving, and secondly that Tesco is planning to open a standalone store for its Florence & Fred fashion brand in the West End.
I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of Best Buy but there’s no question that its development has not been at the pace which its American owners would have demanded. That’s not just a matter of pride, but has allowed rival Dixsons time to get its act together and modernise its Currys and PC World stores, which it has done very effectively.
In practice it seems that former Boots and Tesco man Scott Wheway is running the show for Best Buy here, and so I’m not sure there’ll be any significant business implications as a result of the departure of Antoniadis, but still, it’s undoubtedly a sign that not all is going to plan and will encourage John Browett and his team in Hemel.
As for Tesco, the standalone F&F store idea will be a good test of whether it’s a strong enough brand to stand on its own two feet when its not sitting alongside the giant Tesco machine. Asda found a few years ago that George didn’t work on high streets because of the rental costs, but Tesco’s move is for rather different reasons, aiming to raise the profile of the brand and put it on a level footing with its fast fashion rivals.
Whether it will succeed is another matter. My view on supermarket clothing is that people don’t buy it just because its cheap, but also because it’s there when they’re there doing their grocery shopping. That’s not to say huge strides haven’t been made in terms of the fashionability of the product, but that they’re not destinations for clothing. Maybe having a flagship in the West End might change that, although Florence and Fred is a terrible name.
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