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Last week Next opened its most up-to-date store at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. Drapers went along on opening day to take a look and gauge customer reaction

The opening of Next’s 44,000sq ft store in Sheffield’s Meadowhall marks a year of frenzied activity at the business. The retailer has been updating its stores and ranges, as well as its external and internal branding and marketing.

Store makeovers are moving at pace, with the business spending £40 million on refurbishments this year. In the past fortnight alone it has handed over 12 stores to be revamped, according to its design consultant Dalziel & Pow.

Last week’s Meadowhall opening is a blueprint for how Next will handle larger retail spaces in the future. It moves the look on from the last big store launch, unveiled this spring at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. There are 150 mannequins in the Meadowhall store, some positioned on impressively lit catwalks, to provide information on key looks and trends across men’s, women’s and kids’ wear. There is also a strong sense of individual departments and product zones, such as in denim and footwear, which make the store simple to shop.

Chief executive Simon Wolfson says the business has worked hard on this over the past six months. He told Drapers: “The most important changes since Bluewater have been how we have treated the circulation space. We have also tried to emphasise a difference in finish for each area, which we can refresh every 18 months or so. There is also a lot more focus on internal displays and merchandising of the collections. We have reduced the options year-on-year by about 10% across the business, which instantly makes stores feel less dense and easier to shop.”

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