Retailers need good stores as much as good stock if they are to succeed in the current climate.

Retailers need good stores as much as good stock if they are to succeed in the current climate.

The notion that you can sell good stock from a poor shop, but not the other way round has always been a kick in the face for store designers. The logical conclusion is why bother with highly wrought interiors if the product will sell anyway?

Yet things are probably not quite as clear-cut as might be implied by this and last week’s results from Supergroup are a case in point. Like-for-likes in the quarter to April 28 rose 5% as shoppers stormed the shops to buy what was already a strong product offer, made better by new developments on the formal side.

They probably would not have done so however if the stores had not looked all that. The point about Superdry stores is that whenever you visit a new one, it almost invariably seems to be build upon and, in most instances, improve upon what has gone before. And in doing so, it responds to the perennial shopper demand for something different from what others are doing.

The store that opened in March in Land Securities’ Trinity Leeds development stands as an example of the process in action. At 16,000 sq ft, this is a large store, but not the biggest and yet a quick wander around was enough to convince that what had been done was to use the lessons of the flagship Regent Street store in a northern context.

Practically, this meant that the museum-style glass cases that house mannequins in the London store are now a feature in Leeds and flat-bed railway trucks used as display vehicles, also feature, among other things. It is almost certainly the case that shoppers would buy Supergroup stock irrespective of all of this, but they have to have a reason to get into the shop first.

The year so far has been a tight one for fashion retailers, with weather, a straitened economy and the rise and rise of online merchants combining to push many with terrestrial portfolios to the brink of despair. Yet if the lesson of Supergroup proves anything at all it is that you have to be on your mettle in all areas at the moment if success is to be forthcoming.

The best-looking stores will continue to thrive and those investing in them will see the benefits in the short, medium and long-term. Meanwhile, those relying solely on price to buy sales may well find the going just gets tougher.