Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman spent £79 per sq ft on opening its first store in Liverpool last week – less than it costs Marks & Spencer to refurbish one of its existing stores.
The impressive new white and glossy black storefit is punctuated by new “power” departments for its own brand Designers at Debenhams lines.
Rocha by John Rocha, Star by Julien Macdonald, J by Jasper Conran and Betty Jackson Black have been freshly expanded to offer casualwear, workwear and eveningwear. Previously, each brand had specialised in one type of product. Templeman hopes this will encourage loyal brand customers to spend more.
Space for these new departments across the chain will come from a 15% reduction in overall womenswear options, and the rejig will see 40% of womenswear moving for the autumn season –- a huge undertaking.
The Debenhams Collection sub-brand has swallowed up the Casual Club range and become a destination department for basics merchandised by type. This will help Debenhams compete with M&S on essential items such as basic knits and skirts, where Templeman says the group is weak in terms of market share.
The destination Collection department will be rolled out for autumn, when the first product bought specifically by category will also be introduced.