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High Street will die, says David Jones

Retail guru and former Next chief executive David Jones has forecast a revolution in British shopping habits and the death of the high street.

Retail guru and former Next chief executive David Jones has forecast a revolution in British shopping habits and the death of the high street.

Speaking exclusively to Drapers, Jones said: “I am convinced that shopping in the future will be in out-of-town sites or on the internet. The high street will disappear slowly.”

“When we launched internet sales for Next Directory, I would never have imagined it would see the boom that it has,” he said. Next launched a transactional website in 1999, and online sales now account for more than 50% of its Directory sales. For the year to January 2007, Next Directory generated sales of £775 million.

Jones, who is also chairman of Littlewoods Shop Direct, was appointed non-executive director at JJB
Sports this week. He will also spend one day a week working at the business as part of a three-year project to build its in-house home shopping operation.

He said JJB's home shopping arm would be purely electronic, with no paper element, adding it would not be a Next Directory-type business. However, he would not be drawn on further details. At present, online sales make up a low single-figure percentage of JJB’s sales.

Meanwhile, sportswear rival John David Group has also stepped into the online arena with plans to create a website and mail order catalogue that will clear end-of-line stock and go head to head with M and M Direct. JD has bought Top Grade Sports, which owns the Carlotti brand and has its own etail site, to run the clearance operation.

Last week, online shopping group IMRG forecast that etail turnover in the Christmas quarter would reach £15 billion, up 60% on 2006.

For more see today's Drapers magazine.

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