It may be small for a flagship, but the retailer’s latest effort should punch above its weight in terms of sales that is proving popular among shoppers.
Address 190 Oxford Street, London W1D
Size 4,200 sq ft
Store design Eastcoat
Number of in-store employees 50
There are some retailers that have their moment in the sun and some that remain looking bronzed and beautiful even when the clouds set in. Office looks like one of the latter. Visit any branch and it’s almost always got shoppers trying on a pair of flats, sandals or modishly vertiginous stilettos - even men get a pretty stylish look in.
The new store on Oxford Street is a flagship, and shoppers wishing to see the best Office has to offer need look no further. And in spite of the multiple mid-market brands stocked, this is best viewed as a branded house, rather than a house of brands, as styles tend to be grouped by type and occasion.
There is little mistaking the fact this is a young fashion offer. It is also another stage in the gradual rehabilitation of Oxford Street’s eastern end.
Format and visual merchandising: 7/10
This is a large square-shaped interior that does make the job of merchandising and dividing up space more straightforward than in many other stores. The right-hand wall features a series of curved white frames that provide a stylish setting for the ‘sport’ and canvas casual shoes on offer. The majority of these are brightly coloured and the shop is therefore about offering a backdrop that will appeal to those in search of a fashionable interior, without it distracting too obviously from the merchandise.
Across the floor from this there is a rather more conventional series of backlit shelves with a protruding wider shelf at the base of the perimeter. Generally, the shoes are arranged by type with heeled styles, flats and boots all having their own areas, meaning the tendency may be to look at shape first and brand afterwards. This is counter to what some other multi-brand footwear retailers on Oxford Street tend to do, where the brand comes ahead of almost anything else.
The mid-shop has relatively unobtrusive fixtures with glass tops, allowing the stock to once more take precedence.
At the front, however, there is a square table with blue neon tubes around its sides. This does catch the eye and makes this more of a fashion interior than might otherwise be the case.
A big sign at the back relates the fact that ‘MENS’ shoes are in the area, which does leave you wondering where the men’s collection begins and how it might impinge on the women’s offer. This is the only category indicator in the shop.
All in all, this is a totally respectable mid-market fashion environment, although lumbering it with a flagship label may be asking a little too much.
Most of the current fashion bases are touched on in this store and there is a plentiful selection within each footwear type. At £100, the Dr Martens are where you’d expect them to be in terms of price, and men can also expect to choose from a catholic selection of desert boots, as well as more formal styles. The bulk of the action is aimed at women however, and with everything from Havaianas flip-flops to Ted Baker high heels there is no shortage of choice.
Still, this is Office and own brand also plays a considerable part at the more entry-price end of things, for men and women. And it is the mix that really creates charms for this store and is probably why there were so many shoppers on the floor on the evening of visiting.
This is going to sound like a bit of a whinge, but there was a slight sense of being pounced on. All well and good if you’re tolerant but there are times when the greeter and incessant enquires about whether you are “alright” can be a mite tiresome. That said, there was no danger in leaving you to your own devices, and as a selling vehicle, this was where it probably should be in terms of attitude. It had, however, mildly crossed the line that divides service
Does it work? 7/10
Well, yes it does, but rather more thanks to the store layout and merchandise appeal than to the manner in which things are sold. On this reckoning, you might be inclined to say price and product are the two major determinants of success in this ‘flagship’ store.
As for its being a flagship - it is a pretty small one and this might be more to do with its Oxford Street location than with its magnitude. Indeed, there are several shoe shops along the strip that are larger than this one. All of which notwithstanding, the sheer volume of people visiting this shop must make it a success, however you happen to gauge such things.
- Total = 28/40