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Hit or Miss - Brent Cross

Marie Davies

When Brent Cross opened in 1976 it was the first shopping centre of its kind in the UK – fast-forward 36 years and it faces serious competition in the surrounding area, most recently in the shape of Westfield London in White City.

Although not the most outwardly charming of centres, for Drapers’ seasonal Womenswear Hit or Miss it was the quality of retailers being judged and not the centre’s aesthetic. As always, this report makes honest comparisons of the stores on a chosen high street or at a shopping centre, taking into consideration product, value and experience. Brent Cross definitely had some shining stars, as you will see.

With the high street sector facing increasing pressure from online pure-play specialists, discounters and supermarkets, bricks-and-mortar retailers have to keep product at the forefront of their thinking and win the customer over with added experience and value. Unfortunately, Drapers was surprised at the amount and extent of discounting so early in the spring season – discounting is a trend driving UK sales (see our sales and trends index), but it does not make the best statement alongside new season collections, particularly so early in the season.

The retailers topping our scoreboard are a mix of young fashion, premium and mainstream, proving anyone can stand out if they get all the elements right. According to Kantar Worldpanel Fashion, non-branded womenswear accounts for 85% of all womenswear bought in the UK (24 weeks to February 19, 2012 versus 2011), a rise of 2% on the previous year. Judging by what Drapers saw at Brent Cross this is no surprise, with the likes of Whistles, Topshop and Hobbs proving that even when not sitting in a shiny new shopping centre, the cream still rises to the top.

Stores visited on March 15 and 16.

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