Analysis: Can Next become a force to be reckoned with in beauty retail?

Stores Fabled Marie Claire 4

Hours after Debenhams confirmed that it would exit its five store across Hammerson-owned shopping centres, Next unveiled details of an unikely swoop.

The fashion retailer has signed leases to take on the main floors of each of the locations – in Birmingham’s Bullring, Croydon’s Centrale, Silverburn in Glasgow, High Cross in Leicester and Reading’s Oracle – to launch its new beauty concept, ‘The Beauty Hall from Next’.

Next says it aims to create “a premium retail environment for beauty” with the new fascia complementing its existing online offer.

Chief executive Lord Wolfson stressed in the retailer’s most recent trading update that although coronavirus has dented the retailer’s performance, it is continuing to invest “to take the business forward once the storm has passed”.

Nevertheless, snapping up more property and unveiling a new store format in the midst of a pandemic could be perceived as a risky play – particularly when, in a socially distanced world, the future role of beauty hall must-haves, such as sample testing and on-hand makeup artists, is so uncertain.

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