The self-styled ‘King of Trainers’ has revamped its store on Birmingham’s New Street and at a stroke it has become the chain’s most expensively fitted-out branch, according to a helpful member of staff.
Address 1-5 New Street, Birmingham
Size 6,300 sq ft
Refurbishment completed End of July
Store design Briggs Hillier
The reason for this is that this two-floor store is abuzz with technology, shiny fixtures and lighting of the kind that does not come cheap.
All of which means this is a store that aspires to take on all-comers, including the Adidas outpost across the street – with which it has rather more in common than with the Sports Direct stores that some seem more inclined to bracket it with.
It also, to an extent, walks the talk, with a very broad range of trainers, although it is hard to see the logic of some of the clothing. Nevertheless, this is a good move on from the new-look JD that was unveiled in Cardiff a couple of years ago.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
The ground floor is a branded tour de force in visual merchandising terms, whether it’s the yellow signs with black brand names written on them, or the tall, internally-lit museum cabinet-style mid-shop display units. It’s the lighting that achieves this effect overall with a strong use of neon shapes and spots overhead. More than anything, however, it’s the fact that the fixturing is high-gloss black while trainers are, broadly, white – the contrast makes this a compelling interior. Upstairs, where most of the clothing is housed, as well as kids’ trainers, it’s more conventional. Here, long mid-shop rails bearing Sale product may be effective at clearing stock, but it spoils the impression created on the ground floor.
02 - CONCEPT
The original template for the Cardiff store was designed by consultancy Briggs Hillier, and JD has kept faith with it for this branch. And what is apparent is that while this may be a jazzy interior, it is about making a star of the product and on this level it works well on the ground floor. Upstairs, owing to the product mix, in which garments predominate, it looks a little as if JD Sports had started work on the first floor, got part way through and then given up.
03 - SERVICE
Imagine this. You go to the bank and the digital queuing system tells you not only when it’s your turn, but also what’s happening and how long you’re going to have to wait. This, in effect, is what’s on offer at JD, where a hand-held scanner enables staff to contact the stockroom to find out if a size is on the shelf. The search appears on overhead monitors and if the style is located it appears via a whizzy dumb waiter arrangement. This may sound complex, but it was working well and the staff were enthusiastic.
04 - PRODUCT
There is a choice to be made when it comes to choosing trainers – visit a brand store or go to a multi-brand merchant. It’s a bit like heading for a T-Mobile store or Carphone Warehouse. Assuming you do the latter, but for sports shoes, then this JD is a good option as you can compare and contrast more than 20 brands – which equates to real choice. Problems begin once more, however, when you head upstairs, as both ambience and product, mostly clothing, are rather more reminiscent of Sports Direct than not.
05 - COMPETITION
You pays your money … and you avoids Sports Direct, as this is not a discount formula, in spite of the appearance of a fair portion of the upper floor. There are actually multiple options in central Birmingham when it comes to the acquisition of training shoes – ranging from heading for one of the several department stores to tripping the light fantastic in the nearby Adidas store, also on New Street. And much of what is on offer in JD will be available elsewhere, yet in terms of the way in which the product is displayed and the price points, this is a competitive offering.
06 - VERDICT - The prospects are good
This is a very good store indeed, as long as you don’t climb the stairs. This is a pity as a lot of money has been spent on transforming the space and perhaps it might have been better to divert funds from elsewhere to complete the job. The tone of voice – ‘Men’, ‘Women’, ‘Junior’, ‘Nippers’, is bang on for the brand and there were a lot of customers checking things out on a midweek morning. It’s a while since Cardiff and there are variations of this fit-out in multiple locations and on this reckoning, JD is doing a good job of setting itself apart from its rivals.