| Focus on making a visit to a store more of a leisure experience and less on “buying stuff”. |
Debenhams is expected to announce a significant investment to boost the number of restaurants and beauty services, such as brow grooming and blow-dry bars, in its 165 stores.
Consumers are allocating more free time and disposable income to eating out and holidays, when they want to shop they increasingly are doing it online.
Debenhams chairman Ian Cheshire recently acknowledged the changes: “The next generation is behaving differently, spending differently and interacting differently”, he said. “To them it is experience, not stuff that matters.”
The department store is expected to also review its Designers by Debenhams brands, which includes RJR by John Rocha, J by Jasper Conran and Star by Julien McDonald, amid claims they are no longer relevant. Last year UK department store footfall slumped by 2pc, putting Debenhams’ expensive multi-storey shops under strain. Two thirds of BHS sites, which closed last year, remain empty.
Analysts report that all but one of Debenhams 165 shops remains profitable and the company has long-leases that are an average of 20 years long, which would be too expensive for the retailer to exit.
Debenhams is planning to create stores that are destinations by adding more services and restaurants. The company has already added a number of Patisserie Valerie, Costa and Joe and The Juice cafes to its stores, which has increased the amount of time shoppers spend in stores.