By Joe Ward, Head of Sales & Marketing
A new store format or radically new design for any retailer always gets people excited – whether they be press, analysts, designers or competitors. And so it is with the new Boots store in Long Acre, a street mainly full of fashion houses in the middle of Covent Garden, London.
Like many retailer Boots are in trouble. Their boss Seb James, has just announced the closure of around 200 stores and when you visit any Boots store up and down the country, the shopper experience is not the best when you compare it to some of its closest competitors like Superdrug.
Whilst there is no doubt there will be a loyal following of hard core Boots shoppers, the average store is not going to and has not been attracting a new and younger crowd. So here we have the store of the future or at least Boots future or at least the Long Acre Boots future.
So rather than look at everyone else’s Twitter pics, I thought I’d better go and visit so last Friday I spent a short time having a mooch around. I say a short time – there’s only so much time to need to spend looking at perfume, corn plasters and sun tan cream to get the gist of it.
As you enter, you get it’s a Boots. It’s not a radical departure. It was never going to be – this is Boots. Radical is not in their vernacular. You enter into the cosmetics and perfume concessions and whilst not a huge departure, all of the things you’d hoped they wold have sorted out they have.
The sight-lines and navigation are good, lighting much more in keeping with the merchandising compared to your standard Boots i.e. not turned up to 11 and as you would expect with any new store now – you couldn’t move for tripping over a digital screen or 10.
There were lots of nods to sustainability both in some of the finishes of the units or specific product ranges like the Beauty Kitchen with their 0% plastic eco-glitter balm.
Upstairs they have the more standard ranges (corn plasters!!) but also have the food offer (with eco-friendly fridges), opticians as well as consultation rooms. Once again, they’ve cleaned up the sight-lines with lower merchandising units, kept the health and well-being themes running through the messaging and basically tidied everything up.
This is what a Boots store should look like. It’s smart, light, and easy to shop and dare I say it, almost enjoyable. It plays to all of the brand values you’d hope Boots to have – it reassures you that they know what they’re doing.
We need Boots. We need Boots to succeed. They are an important retailer. They are important to our High Streets and our communities. If every Boots was like Long Acre I think they would. Trouble is, they’re not.
But this is a step in the right direction, albeit a relatively small step in the future of retail but a massive one for Boots.