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Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

With BHS in Trouble.. What is the Secret of Department Store Success?

So BHS are struggling again - are they to be the next victim of the High Street? Part of Arcadia group, Philip Green acquired BHS in 2000, and everything looked fairly rosy having turned BHS round… just 6 years later in 2006 there were reports that the retail chain was struggling.  A revamp of their 180 stores and branding didn't seem to work and fell flat - and it is in serious trouble now, but why is it that department stores like BHS fail and John Lewis go from strength to strength?

Stuart Mitchell (CEO Live & Breathe) said for Marketing Magazine recently that he thought BHS are .."synonymous with C&A and Woolworths, which fell victim to smarter budget retailers" … and I think he is right. I last went in a BHS store out of sheer desperation as I couldn't find what I was looking for…it was the same when Woolworths was around..a last resort shop..never a first choice. John Lewis get it right because it is about modern living…it's the lifestyle they are selling not just the product.

With Greggs announcing profits are up and Little Chef announcing losses and site closures it's the same story again but in the fast food sector, although the Heston Blumenthal documentary didn't do Little Chef any favours at all. The CEO was cringe worthy in his attitude and behaviour.

It's not the concept of the department store that's failing, John Lewis, Selfridges, Debenhams, M&S all get it right.  But think BHS, C&A, Woolworths, Littlewoods …. all old fashioned.. the kinds of places where your granny would go. They didn't or haven't moved on at all as consumer tastes evolved. As I've said before in other blogs, modern consumers have so much choice now; they want a shopping experience - not just the same old tired format. M&S almost went this way and they turned it around with the food halls and fashionable new clothing lines. It looks like Green will be following their lead and considering the 150 BHS stores that have planning consent as food outlets too. BHS could get it right … but is it too late to turn this ship around? More than ever in retail it's survival of the fittest… evolve and adapt or die.

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