Debenhams boss Sergio Bucher pledged to “put the fun back into shopping” as he unveiled the chain’s new 80,000 sq ft Watford store.
Speaking ahead of its opening this week, Bucher outlined his vision for the department store of the future and stressed the importance of making every shopping trip “memorable” for customers.
“For too long, stores have been big warehouses full of product with a till at the door,” he said. “We just want to bring the joy back. This isn’t a country that has fallen out of love with retail.
“There are three main sports [in the UK]: football, rugby and shopping. If we are to beat the pureplays, we have to give customers a great reason to come shopping.”
The new Watford store is home to Debenham’s new “beauty hall of the future” concept, which includes a blow-dry bar, facials and a pop-up space, which hosted a pink gin bar for the store launch.
It also includes a click-and-collect personal shopping experience and health-focused restaurant concept Loaf & Bloom.
Bucher – the former head of Amazon Fashion – also stressed the health of Debenhams’ overall business and said the retailer was on a solid platform to trade well through the crucial Christmas peak trading period.
“We have spent the last 12 months testing and learning. We are creating a compelling customer proposition and we have a supportive balance sheet. And we’re profitable – sometimes it is a surprise for me to remember that after what I see in the press.”