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Missguided makes its mark on Westfield

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The fast fashion retailer’s debut own store is the first step in an ambitious bricks-and-mortar expansion plan.

Missguided opened its first standalone store at Westfield Stratford City last week, marking the start of an aggressive bricks-and-mortar rollout. The ambitious womenswear brand has already dipped its toe into physical stores, opening three concessions in branches of Selfridges, but chief executive Nitin Passi sees the Westfield store as a chance to shake-up what he labels a “complacent” high street.

“The reason we’re going into retail is because we want to create theatre, which is completely non-existent on the high street – everyone looks the same,” he tells Drapers. “The first thing I said to my design agency [Dalziel & Pow] is that if you covered the name of some of our competitors, they all look the same. We want to create a store that has energy and is vibrant.”

The 20,000 sq ft store certainly makes an impression. Mannequins perch on top of a candy-pink monster truck (complete with Missguided branded tyres) at the store front, and paper “money” falls from the ceiling. Around the entrance are clustered groups of digital screens, which will be used to engage with the brand’s social media obsessed-customers.

“There’s a lot of digital throughout the store – we’re working towards having programmatic display messages, which will recognise customers through the Missguided app and send them push notifications,” Passi says. “The screens have content on them that can be changed daily, so we can show people who have hashtagged something they’ve bought.”

A sense of fun pervades the store. Slogans declaring “eat, sleep, slay” and “99% unicorn” are dotted around, as are giant model doughnuts. Upstairs, which is home to nightwear and a “shoeniverse”, mannequins are half woman, half unicorn and customers can also buy cans of “unicorn dreams” from a (pink, of course) vending machine.

Missguided’s customers are used to finding new product online almost daily. Newness will be equally as important in store, explains head of retail Andy Marsh: “We’ve got a massive focus on newness throughout the store, but particularly at the front, where we will be turning product all the time and refreshing things very quickly. We want to make sure the customer wants to return as quickly as possible to make sure she doesn’t miss out.”

Making the transition from an etailer with concessions to a fully fledged store presence has been relatively smooth sailing, Passi mantains, although it has required a slight shift in attitude from Missguided’s buyers and merchandising team.

“It’s a shift in mindset. When we’re buying products for online and we’re bringing in 2,500 products a month, you don’t worry about how it all looks next to each other because it’s all going online. That’s changed for the product department and for the buyers.”

Allowing more customers to see and touch product before they buy may also influence Missguided’s product ranges. Although the Missguided chief executive does not mind if customers choose to look at product in store but ultimately purchase online, allowing more customers to see before they buy could allow the brand to build on its existing premium range.

“Another thing we hope to do with retail is expand our offer and attract a different kind of customer. If people can touch it and feel it, we can start doing products at a higher price point but for the right reason – things like real leather, where customers can touch and feel the value.”

Missguided expects to open another four stores before April next year, concentrating on the top 20 highest footfall areas around the UK, before turning its attention overseas.

Passi is certain the heavy investment will pay off: “Where most of our competitors are struggling with their like-for-like sales and focusing on margin and cost saving, we want to focus on exciting our customer.” 

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