The industry has expressed sorrow at the closure of “one of the most beautiful stores” in the UK.
Luxury womenswear retailer The Shop at Bluebird in London’s Covent Garden announced this week that it will close at the end of January.
The concept store, which is owned by the Jigsaw Group, said in an Instagram post: “After 15 wonderful years, The Shop at Bluebird will be closing on Sunday 26 January. We are so proud of everything we’ve achieved: the loyal customers who became our friends, the exceptional brands who became our partners, a neighbourhood boutique known for its unique fashion finds.”
The Shop at Bluebird opened a new 15,000 sq ft flagship at Covent Garden’s Carriage Hall in May 2018. It previously had a store on Chelsea’s King’s Road for more than a decade.
It was led by Claire Miles, who joined in 2014 and had previously held roles at New Look and Asos.
“It’s such a shame to see a really lovely store go,” said one womenswear retailer executive. “Unfortunately footfall just hadn’t developed yet – it needed another year or two.”
Erica Vilkauls, former LK Bennett CEO, agreed: “Footfall is quite low [in Covent Garden] on a daily basis. I can’t see there would ever be enough customers in that actual area going in, regularly, to make the store profitable. A huge space with a lot of staff required so a costly operation coupled with low customer numbers does not add up to a profitable business.”
Vilkauls also blamed rents and business rates for its downfall: “The rates, which are extortionate around Covent Garden, are sometimes higher than rents.”
One former Jigsaw employee said: “Its an amazing store and lovely curation, but it’s heart belongs in the Kings Road where it was known and understood by its customers.”
Retail strategy director at digital agency MediaVision Jack Felstead also attributed its high-priced location for the closure: “Having visited this store several times, I can honestly say it’s one of the most beautiful stores I’ve ever been to. However, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it always was.”
Felstead said: ”While Floral Street is undeniably a wealthy postcode, when we look at other shops within close proximity of Bluebird – the likes of TK Maxx, Ted Baker and Radley – it’s fair to say these are predominately of a lower price point. Perhaps this location isn’t the most lucrative for high-end retailers, especially with Bond Street just down the road.”
“All in all, this is a very sad loss for the high street.”
Drapers has contacted Jigsaw for comment.
- Read the Drapers view on why The Shop at Bluebird clipped its wings here