Next has signed new flexible leases to take over the existing beauty halls in Debenhams stores that are set to permanently close down in five Hammerson shopping centres. The fashion retailer said these will be run as standalone Next premium beauty halls and the new concept will be complimented by its online beauty business.
The new concept stores will be launched in five Debenhams locations that are located within Hammerson-owned shopping centres: the Bullring in Birmingham, The Oracle in Reading, Highcross in Leicester, Silverburn in Glasgow and Centrale in Croydon. Debenhams confirmed it would not reopen its branches in these five sites after lockdown restrictions are lifted after it failed to agree terms with Hammerson.
Next said it was looking to hire ”experienced staff with proven premium beauty retail experience”. This means Debenhams’ beauty hall staff facing the prospect of redundancy in these five locations could secure a position. “This is an exciting opportunity to work with existing and new beauty brand partners to create a new force in beauty retailing – bringing our online business to life through premium store environments in some of the UK’s most important retail locations,” Next chief executive Simon Wolfson said.
Next said it recognised the opportunity to develop an extensive premium beauty business after a successful online collaboration with Fabled by Marie Claire, which launched beauty on the retailer’s ecommerce site in October 2018. The fashion giant now sells over 200 beauty brands on its website – including premium brands Estee Lauder, Burberry, Bvlgari, Emporio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Lancôme – and acquired Fabled in July 2019 from Ocado.
Meanwhile, Hammerson said it would pursue opportunities to repurpose the other floors of the five Debenhams branches in a bid to reduce the amount of department store space in its portfolio. Hammerson’s strategy to repurpose space let to department stores started in March this year, and it received planning consent to redevelop the House of Fraser store at the Oracle, Reading, with secured pre-lettings to leisure operators.
“This is a challenging time for all of us, so it’s really encouraging to see strong, innovative brands like Next work with us to plan for the future,” Hammerson chief executive David Atkins said.
“This is the right decision not only for consumers but for our communities more broadly, as it will create employment prospects and support local economies all over the country. “This is another example of how we are repurposing department store space and improving the shopping experience for consumers. “The beauty hall from Next is a great concept and it’s a real vote of confidence in our flagship destinations that Next has chosen these locations to launch its new offer.”