The unveiling of H&M was one of the highlights of this week which is no small feat when you're competing with the glamour of London Fashion Week and its catwalk names.
The store itself is a real design statement which truly brings the merchandise - some of the best in design terms on the high street - to life. What impressed me most was the kidswear department, which admittedly was buried in the basement, but clever mini-merchandising just blows away the competition in this arena. Adams, Bhs, M&S etc take note.
Menswear too was given a fresh impetus with a shop fit not dissimilar to an Abercrombie & Fitch or Ralph Lauren. Who wouldn't want to pick up a £30 bargain blazer in an aspirational environment like this?
All this begs the question just where do the traditional value players like MK One and Matalan go now? Both are facing their own unique challenges - largely in relation to stores and locations and severe under investment - but both are in desperate need of a dramatic overhaul and fast before they slip beyond obscurity.
It's no longer enough to service shoppers with racks and racks £3 jersey tops. Shoppers want quality plus value (and that means good design and dirt cheap prices) and they want a shopping experience too. Most of the multiples operating in the value and fast-fashion arenas do now operate on a level playing field in terms of product and so must look at new areas such as store design to retain shopper loyalty.
New Look's flagships have improved no end but have not yet moved far enough away from the white box while analysts say M&S' expensive shop fits have not delivered what they had hoped for in terms of uplifts.
But splashing out on spanking new designs is not easy to swallow in the current economic climate and retailers will have their heads down desperately trying to maintain flat or minimal negative like-for-likes this year as more and more retail space comes on stream. Let's just hope the key players don't have their heads in the sand too...
What do you think of H&M on Regent Street? How important is store design to retailers' success?