Closing a store for refurbishment is a tough call to make and Uniqlo on Oxford Street may have to run fast to make up lost ground.
Words on the exterior of the Uniqlo flagship on Oxford Street, currently closed, inform shoppers that it will reopen later this year, although the date remains to be announced.
All fine, every shop needs a bit of a tszuj sometimes and the trick is knowing when this needs to be done, before events see a decline in brand loyalty and a slowdown in sales.
Two questions occur. The normal modus operandi on Oxford Street is to “trade through” a refurb in order to minimise turnover disruption, so why has Uniqlo shuttered the store altogether?
The other query is just what kind of work is going on that the retailer is prepared to forgo sales to the extent that its European profits suffer as a whole?
A fine line
In fairness, Uniqlo has a reputation for showstoppers, think New York’s Fifth Avenue or maybe the Opéra store in Paris, so it would be reasonable to suppose that when the hoardings do finally come down we will be in for something pretty special.
It’s a fine line however, between keeping shoppers in suspense and seeing them going somewhere else because a store is closed.
Equally, it will have to be an absolutely amazing makeover when the size of this store is considered. Yes it is a large shop, but it is not on the scale of some of its neighbours.
It is, of course, worth noting that when the doors are finally flung wide there will be an additional two levels, which will help to bring it back towards its original status as the world’s largest Uniqlo when it first opened in 2007.
Credit should also be given to the fact that as we move into the second half of 2015 this is a shopfit that will have lasted not far off a decade – unusual for any serious operator in the fashion arena.
Return on investment is probably the single most important parameter to be considered when refurbishing a store.
And on the basis of what is currently taking place at the Oxford Street Uniqlo flagship it seems a fair bet that there will be a single-minded focus on recouping what must look like a bit of a gulf when the fall in European profits and the cost of refurbishment are combined. Looking forward!