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Next's new store format and ads herald retail revival

Next has kicked off its plan to reinvigorate its business, with new store formats, its first TV ad campaign in 12 years and a new womenswear product director.

Drapers can reveal that childrenswear product director Liz Catterall has been promoted to the top womenswear job after the departure of Fiona Lambert, who joined George at Asda as brand director in January. Catterall's replacement has not been announced.

Her appointment comes ahead of a crucial trading update later this month when Next will reveal how it has traded over the past 12 months, highlighting any impact from a resurgent Marks & Spencer.

The first of the new store formats will open in Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre in June or July.

The shopfits will feature coloured zones to break up the shop floor, similar to the strategy used in River Island's stores.

Next's new format, created by design group Dalziel & Pow, is believed to be a blueprint for future shops. Some elements of the design were trialled last year in selected stores, including Next's London Oxford Street flagship.

The refitted stores are understood to have posted sales uplifts of at least 5%.

"There has been a lot of criticism that Next's shopfit is dull," said Investec Securities analyst Mark Charnock. "There are big, long runs of the same fixturing. The idea will be to have colours and textures on the walls that break things up a bit and give it a different feel."

Next's move coincides with the launch of its TV ad campaign in Scotland on February 15, which marked the retailer's first TV brand campaign in 12 years. Until now, its TV presence has been limited to its Sale advertising.

The tactic of trialling a regional ad campaign is often a precursor to launching a national ad push.

However, although a spokeswoman for Next said the campaign was a trial, she would not confirm its intentions for a national roll-out.

The ads, which feature a catwalk show, are part of Next's increased focus on advertising this year. The retailer has boosted its ad spend from £1.5 million to £10m.

The retailer's existing national ad campaign runs across a variety of print media, from daily newspapers to weekly magazines, as well as online.

Next has also announced it will sponsor the April fashion supplement for Red magazine, as well as using Red-branded swing tags that will appear on selected ranges and favourite items in stores.

KICK-STARTING A NEW NEXT

- New store format to debut at Meadowhall in Sheffield this summer

- New womenswear product director appointed

- First TV brand ad campaign in 12 years

Number of stores: 460 in UK and Republic of Ireland

Retail space: 4.54 million sq ft

Turnover (year to Jan 06): £3.106 billion

Pre-tax profits: £449 million

Like-for-like sales: Down 6.9% for July 31 to Dec 24 2006*

*In stores unaffected by openings.

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