House of Fraser To Close 31 Stores
Is this the beginning of the end for retails’ high street giants?
Less than one month ago Marks & Spencer announced plans to close more than 100 stores by 2022 as part of a “radical transformation” of the company. No-one was surprised. News that many well-known brands on the high street are struggling with a downturn in footfall and profits has been widely reported, from Next and Debenhams to New Look and Top Shop. The UK high street, it seems, is in a flux while the etailer gains the upper hand.
Today (7th June 18) department store chain House of Fraser has revealed the extent of its troubles by announcing the closure of 31 of its 59 stores. A decision that will affect 6,000 jobs but is part of a crucial rescue deal for the retailer. If the plan is fully approved the shops will begin to close early next year and will include its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.
John Taylor, co-CEO at consumer finance specialists Duologi commented on the news:
“The internet has made it easier than ever before for customers to compare prices and shop around online, without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes. This subsequent decrease in footfall to the high street has led to a number of high-street brands opting to close stores where footfall has dwindled to save on overheads, with House of Fraser being just the latest example of this.
“However, this does not mean that the high street is dying – far from it. Rather, we’re seeing a shift in the retail landscape, wherein the retailers set to thrive will be the more flexible, agile brands which can offer customers a choice in how they shop and pay for products.
“To accomplish this, savvy smaller retailers are taking the time to optimise their online presence to sit alongside their bricks-and-mortar offering, engaging customers who no longer shop with a brand due to ongoing store closures.
“This flexibility also extends to the payment process itself. With consumer confidence currently low, flexible finance options such interest free credit, 0% finance and buy-now-pay-later can support shoppers at the time of purchase – particularly for big-ticket items – which can both engender consumer loyalty and increase average basket values.
“As advisors to start-up brands we can understand how daunting the prospect of a bricks-and-mortar store is right now. If the big guns can’t get it right then how is the small independent expected to? However, we adamantly believe, as John Taylor says, that the high street is in the midst of change. The success of internet shopping has really rocked the boat. Consumers will always want to see, try and experience, and retail has to adapt to modern consumer needs whether it’s personalised customer care, a made-to-measure service, exclusive product offer or regular in-store events.
“FashionCapital is currently working on a unique retail opportunity for its members due to launch later this year. Watch this space for details.”