As consumer sentiment hardens, identifying retailers that are doing what they should is more straightforward than ever.
The ability to reinvent is something that tends to mark out successful individuals or companies when viewed over a long period. You might instance David Bowie in the 1970s, 1980s or even the early 90s when he made a point of consistently changing his image in order to maintain not just relevance but to stay ahead of the herd.
In stores, two of the prime examples are to be found at Oxford Circus where Topshop and Niketown both have their flagships (and they are real flagships, rather than big stores. They represent the best of the two brands). Niketown today is more or less a different place from when it opened more than a decade ago and during that period it has altered the face it presents to the shopper several times. The installation of the glass cube in the middle of the shop where bespoke trainers can be created stands as one of the highlights, but there is hardly an area that has been left untouched.
The same is true of Topshop next door. Not only have large numbers of departments been altered, reconfigured and give facelifts, but there has even been additional space carved out in the shape of an extra floor for Topman; which shares the same premises.
The point about both is that they provide telling reasons for shoppers to make repeat visits – there’s always something different to look at and it’s not just a matter of new cardboard point of sale. The results rather speak for themselves. Stand in either store on any day of the week and you’ll be jostled by eager customers all inspecting the space. There is, of course, an argument that these are destination stores for the tourist horde heading for Oxford Street, but the reason they do so is because these two have earned their reputations on the basis of novelty and offering experience.
Contrast this with so many other shops along the same thoroughfare and it’s easy to see why these two retailers stand out. To name just a few, the HMV flagship, Clinton Cards, Debenhams and the New Look store at the west end of the street were all good when they attained their current form, but even the newest of these, New Look, has been left almost untouched for close to a decade. With a slew of indifferent retailer trading results hitting the headlines on an almost daily basis, it becomes easier than ever to work out the winners, even before the numbers appear on computer screens across the country.