Young fashion independent Banana Connection is converting two of its Heaven womenswear stores to its main Banana Connection menswear concept.
The retailer, which has three womenswear stores in Watford, Stevenage and Potters Bar in Hertfordshire trading under the Heaven name, will convert the latter two locations to menswear-only Banana Connection stores and will retain just one Heaven womenswear store, in Watford, which relaunched last month with a new concept.
Sanj Chauhan, the owner of Heaven and Banana Connection, told Drapers: “[I’m scaling back on womenswear because] I am finding it an increasingly tough market with the likes of Zara and Topshop reacting so quickly to trends. I’m dependent on brands to come up with trend-led product and, unless this speeds up, I feel the gap between indies and the high street will widen.”
At the menswear business, which operates further stores in Barnet and Waltham Cross, a new in-store web strategy will be trialled next month. Chauhan plans to launch an online ordering computer terminal in the Stevenage store as part of a trial which could be rolled out across the store portfolio.
He added: “I want to make the customer that comes into the store aware of our branded diversity. Due to space restrictions we cannot offer all of our brands in each store. This is where online comes into its own, and the booth will bring the two merchandising channels together in the eyes of the customer.”
The web booth will enable customers to order and pay for goods in store with the option of same-day or next-day delivery.
Chauhan predicts significant growth for the Banana Connection web business and has enlisted the use of a search-engine optimisation company to drive traffic to the site. “We are using them to get up on the search engine ranks. We don’t do huge volumes online but the site is definitely worth having. It’s a great tool for the customers to browse.”
Banana Connection sells brands including G-Star, Lacoste, Lyle & Scott Heritage and Superdry. Heaven stocks brands such as Sugarhill Boutique, TFNC and Rare.