The metamorphosis of the high street is well underway.
As retail opens again this week there have been the predictable media scenes at Primark etc. However, strategically, that is something of a side show. The real event is happening in retail elsewhere.
- Poor performers that have been badly run or simply had their day have closed. The list too long and sad to read but of its time: e.g. CathKidston Monsoon Hawkshead
- Other retailers have used the COVID closures to tidy-up their costs and consolidate their footprint: John Lewis, Zara
- On trend retailers have been turning their high street presence toward an experiential shift e.g. NEXT Beauty Box at the front of store to offer treatments etc and draw shoppers into their experience.
- Out of town shopping malls that looked on the brink may have had a reprieve: Metro Centre, Trafford Centre, Blue Water etc as they can offer social distance and experiential settings. Their issue being to sort out their dreadful debt positions to last long enough to adapt.
And of course, the sitting behind a lot of the action are Private Equity ‘heros’ or ‘villians’ [you choose] such as the new owners of TM Lewin. This Private Equity firm have told landlords they plan to shut most stores, less than a month after buying the brand. SCP Private Equity is run by James Cox, the founder of Simba Sleep, and backed by Allan Leighton, the former boss of Asda, and Paul Taylor, who previously ran Harrods. They folded TM Lewin into a new vehicle, Torque Brands, as part of a strategy to create a stable of British brands.
Stores will become basic marketing for online sales and therefore can drop to a fraction in their number and more than likely follow a concession based model.
Strategic Change is happening rapidly in this economic space and its journey is worth tracking. Metamorphosis in front of our eyes.