The revamped Topshop and Topman in Manchester’s Trafford Centre proves that this is a retailer that can still surprise.
Arcadia has not had the shiniest press coverage lately.
With reports of turnover not being all that it might be and tough trading, Arcadia has joined the ranks of 2017’s retail fashion victims.
That said, a visit to the Trafford Centre in Manchester might be enough to convince doomsayers that things are not quite as bad as might be imagined.
A large part of Arcadia’s presence in this large shopping centre has been given a complete makeover.
“This is now the second largest Topshop on the planet with only the Oxford Circus flagship being bigger”
The result is a massive store that has an expanded Topshop and Topman, while Miss Selfridge has been imported (from elsewhere in the shopping centre) to join the party.
This is now the second largest Topshop on the planet with only the Oxford Circus flagship being bigger. And given the size of the two floorplates, ground and first, much work has been done on making the space work as a shoppable entity.
Long before considering this, however, there is the store’s in-mall exterior to look at.
In keeping with the trend towards opening up previously glazed shop-fronts, this one has a long frontage on both floors, affording onlookers uninterrupted views into the interior, punctuated by freestanding glass boxes that take the place of store windows.
The boxes contain mannequins surrounded by colourful neon tubes, the display scheme being used across the chain currently.
The passing shopper on the first-floor level will probably notice this and the digital screens that front the display boxes, but there is a distraction in the form of the interior focal point: ‘The Hub’.
“The Hub’s effect on the area immediately beneath it is startling, drawing the eye through the store from the outside”
As the name would suggest, this circular, floor-to-ceiling white latticework feature is at the heart of the first floor and above it, a dome allows natural daylight into the store interior.
The latter cannot be viewed from a distance, but its effect on the area immediately beneath it is startling, drawing the eye through the store from the outside.
The Hub is home to dresses, displayed on free-standing equipment, and it is hard not to think that this might be an instance where store design actually overwhelms the merchandise, but it is good.
It is highly effective at giving the floor a talking point. Its shape is also mirrored in the curved freestanding black walls that form concentric curves around it, providing a contrast with the Hub’s stark white tones.
The intention behind all of this is actually relatively simple.
Such is the size of the floor that it would be easy for shoppers to find themselves adrift in a sea of stock, without much of a clue about what might be where. The Hub and the area around it are about making a very large space manageable.
Beyond this central feature, at the back of the shop, there is an accessories and gifts area – a nail bar, the ‘Nailista’, and a long cash desk with a pastel-pink back wall and a white neon Topshop logo.
Shoes are given a semi-discrete room of their own and further around the external perimeter of the Hub, there is a large denim area boasting substantial LED-studded rafters that provide definition for the category.
The denim department is fronted by a white balustrade enclosing a circular staircase, taking shoppers down to Topman on the ground floor.
Highlights on this floor are, once again, the denim department, which makes effective use of overhead neon tubes in the shape of concentric squares, and a shoe department which, if anything, puts the women’s offer in the shade.
Miss Selfridge also makes an appearance on this floor, although the bulk of the square footage has been given to Topman.
Also worth noting are the fitting rooms, there are substantially more of them than before, and the personal shopping suite, which sits at the back of Topman on the ground floor.
Overall, the general impression is slick design and although this is a big store, the manner in which it has been laid out makes it a pleasant place to shop with a sufficient number of visual merchandising points of interest to generate excitement.
Fashion stores should be about making shoppers stop in their tracks and take a second glance. On this level, this Topshop/Topman/Miss Selfridge conglomerate hits the spot and it stands out in a scheme where the competition is fierce.
It is also proof that this is a part of the retail spectrum that still has the capacity to surprise.
Topshop/Topman/Miss Selfridge, Trafford Centre
Refurbishment completed in April, but Miss Selfridge only added two weeks ago
Size 42,000 sq ft (Topshop 24,000 sq ft, Topman 12,000 sq ft, Miss Selfridge 6,000 sq ft)
Number of floors Two
Status Second biggest Topshop in the Arcadia estate