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Shopwatch: Nicholas Deakins

The smart flagship store recently unveiled by Nicholas Deakins in Leeds signals a new maturity for the men’s clothing and footwear brand.

“We’ve been going more than 22 years now, so I’ve grown up a lot and our consumer has grown up a lot too. As the brand has grown the shopfit needed to reflect that,” explains founder and managing director Craig Nicholas Tate.

Nicholas Deakins relocated from its old Victoria Quarter Home on Vicar Lane, where it had been for more than 10 years, into the new 2,000 sq ft store at 15 Boar Lane. The new location is opposite a bustling entrance to shopping centre Trinity Leeds and counts the likes of Urban Outfitters among its near neighbours.

Having seen footfall dramatically decline at its old shop, in what Tate calls the “Trinity effect”, the business jumped at the chance to move when its lease was up. “We thought if we could be at that side of town where the footfall has shifted, in and around it rather than right in the centre of it, that would work out well. And as luck would have it there was a unit available right where the footfall now was.”

The new store features a grand Grade II-listed frontage that has been freshened up with the brand’s rose logo in crisp black and gold. For its interior, Tate has contrasted the building’s history with a modern refit, using hardy natural materials such as local Yorkshire slate and reclaimed wood with slick fixtures and fittings. “It’s quite a rustic, outdoors approach in terms of materials,” says Tate. “It’s heritage, but it’s clean and a bit more grown-up.”

The store’s focal point and Tate’s favourite feature is a floor-to-ceiling slate wall specifically designed to show off the broad footwear offer. Unlike in many stores, where he says footwear typically plays “second fiddle to clothing” positioned at the back of the shop floor, Tate decided to play with the rules and put it right at the front where his shoes can shine. Retail prices range from £25 for a T-shirt to £99 for boots.

“We’re still heavily skewed on footwear as a business, with about 75% footwear and 25% clothing,” he says. “We specialise in footwear, that’s how the company was founded [in 1991]. Clothing just adds to the whole lifestyle experience. Now as soon as you come into the store you are flanked by all the shoes and are in no doubt that we’re serious about footwear.”

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