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Shopwatch: Dune

Spacious design and a sense of movement add up to a winning storefit on Oxford Street.

Fresh from winning Multiple Footwear Retailer of the Year at the Drapers Footwear & Accessories Awards on May 1, Dune is now celebrating the early success of its new store on Oxford Street - its first on the UK’s busiest high street and the largest of its entire estate.

Based on the shopping centre store concept that was unveiled at Westfield Stratford before the Olympics in 2012 - and has since opened in nine stores - the Oxford Street branch aims to make a brand statement and act as a showcase to international visitors.

Dune opened the store at number 490 - previously occupied by Boots - on April 11, after signing a 10-year lease. Since then it has generated more sales than any other Dune shop.

John Mooney, head of visual merchandising and store development for The Dune Group, says the bigger space - 2,200 sq ft, compared with an average Dune store size of 1,300 sq ft - allows more product to be displayed and provides a comfortable shopping experience. It is a design the business intends to roll out to other city centre locations.

“It’s the first of this concept to come to the high street,” notes Mooney. “Until now the refitted stores have all been in shopping centres, so the wide, open front has been key. Shoppers are not intimidated, they can just wander in and take their time browsing.”

The positioning of wide orange seats running down the middle of the store creates privacy, obscuring customers from the full view of the street, and the designated seating area makes it easier for staff to serve efficiently.

“We wanted to open it up and take advantage of the large store,” says Mooney. “The space between the seats and perimeter is very important as it means there are no pinch points. Customers can try product on without being disturbed by other shoppers.”

The shopfit gives equal stature to men’s and women’s ranges, with each occupying opposing walls. Mooney says placing men’s shoes at the front of the store is essential, as men typically do not like to walk through women’s product. “We like to make it easy,” he adds.

The changes are working, with men’s sales rising by 25% in the other refitted stores.

Oxford Street - Dune’s 44th store - is the first to have a separate area for bags, wallets, scarves and sunglasses, placed on shelving towards the back. This highlights the growing importance of accessories to Dune, with sales up 16% in stores with the new shopfit.

A sense of movement was also a big focus for the concept, which features a footwear “catwalk” on the ceiling. “You see clothing moving on a catwalk, so we had to figure out how to bring that movement into a retail environment,” explains Mooney. “The flipped catwalk is bold; the shoes tell the product story for the season - they are held up by magnets, so we can change them twice a year.”

The concept also places large campaign images at the front of the store to draw people inside to explain what Dune is all about.

Dune worked with London and Edinburgh-based retail interior design consultancy Four by Two to create the store concept, which also features wooden flooring, floor-to-ceiling video walls at the rear, white shelving with stainless steel trims and splashes of orange detail.

Two more shopping centre stores in the north of England will be refitted this year. Dune also opened a 1,500 sq ft branch in London’s St Pancras station on May 16 and will unveil its first US store in New York this autumn.

“It feels like the beginning of a new chapter,” says Mooney. “We are an international label and the Oxford Street store is a great window into what we do. The reaction has been incredible and our efforts were capped off with the Drapers Footwear & Accessories award win at the start of the month. It’s a really exciting time for us.”

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