Arnotts’ new Project store in Dublin’s Jervis Shopping Centre, aimed at a younger shopper than its nearby flagship, is an inspired example of how to deal with an extra 80,000sq ft of unexpected retail space.
The unit, which the Irish department store business took on last year, was previously occupied by Debenhams. It was earmarked as the new temporary home for Arnotts’ main store on Henry Street while it was being rebuilt, but the recession forced the scheme to be postponed and Arnott Project opened its doors in November.
Now Arnotts faces the challenge of running two nearby stores in the Republic of Ireland, one of the recession’s hardest-hit countries where consumer confidence has crashed.
The Arnotts Project shop in the Jervis Shopping Centre offers four floors of fashion, accessories and homeware with which the business aims to attract a more trend-savvy and younger shopper than Arnotts’ core 40-plus customer.
Arnotts chief executive David Riddiford says: “The idea was to differentiate Project from the main store.”
Arnotts Project offers a more contemporary store concept than the flagship. The 30,000sq ft lower-ground floor is aimed at what Riddiford calls “confident shoppers”. It is anchored by a 2,500sq ft concession for young fashion brand Desigual, and also features brands including Gio-Goi, Hooch and Superdry.
The ground floor hosts accessories, jewellery and beauty products. The first floor stocks high street womenswear brands including Oasis, Warehouse and French Connection, plus footwear, lingerie and a restaurant. Homeware is on the second floor.
Riddiford says: “Most people think of Arnotts as a classic, traditional department store. This store is different. There are less prominent brand fixtures, art hangs on the walls and we commissioned a graffiti artist. It’s fun, which people need right now.” Other props include a rickshaw and a three-wheel Del Boy-style Reliant Robin van.
Flexibility is key, however, and Riddiford says there are already things that need changing. “For example, we decided not to have kidswear in Project because it’s in the main store,” says Riddiford. “But that was a big mistake, as all the yummy mummies come into Project and the crossover with the main store in terms of shopper is only about 20%.
“If you want that customer you have to create the whole environment, which we couldn’t have done if we had put this concept in the other store. The younger music and staff, the shopfit - our core customer would have rejected it.”
3,000sq ft Size of the store’s Desigual concession
Four Number of floors
200m Distance between Project and the main Arnotts store
- Arnotts Project, Jervis Shopping Centre, Dublin