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Debenhams chairman: ‘Experience, not stuff, is what matters'

Shoppers are looking for experiences rather than more “stuff” and staff need more training in order to provide “real service”, argued Debenhams chairman Sir Ian Cheshire at the World Retail Congress in Dubai earlier today.

“The next generation is behaving differently, spending differently and interacting differently,” he said. “To them it is experience, not stuff that matters.

“As a department store, Debenhams sells a lot of beauty products but increasingly that is through a makeover, an experience customers can share with friends and combine with a coffee shop visit.”

Cheshire pointed out that ecommerce, particularly mobile, has been the biggest game-changer in retail over the last five years.

“It means that, unless you are doing something better than Amazon or the local equivalent, something interesting and special, you are going to struggle,” he said.

“It is an opportunity for great retailers offering unique products and great experiences to build truly great global brands but it means that the bar has been raised. Just showing up with stuff and hoping someone is going buy it doesn’t cut it anymore.”

In October last year Debenhams revealed it is shifting some of its focus away from fashion towards the beauty, gift, swimwear and food categories in order to offset the weak clothing market.





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