Next swoops in on empty Debenhams beauty halls for new concept

Next swoops in on empty Debenhams beauty halls for new concept
Next's new beauty concept halls will be located in Birmingham, Reading, Leicester, Glasgow and Croydon.
// Next signs new flexible leases to take over the existing beauty halls in five Debenhams stores to close
// These will be run as standalone Next premium beauty halls – a new concept for the retailer
// The concepts are part of Hammerson’s wider strategy to repurpose and reduce department store space

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.”

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  1. A sharp move, and an indication that shows those who are agile will scoop the benefits in this new environment. More immediate sales growth in “beauty” than in clothing right now.

  2. Won’t work. Be short lived. Next are always reporting bad sales from there bricks & mortar stores. Considering they shut serval stores in the past 12 months as they said there over spaced.

  3. Agree with Ken Christy and disagree with Matt.
    Beauty is a money spinner for Debenhams and the lost beauty halls will need replacing.
    The Leicester, Birmingham and Reading stores were supposedly safe for Debenhams but obviously Hammerson had enough of the relentless demand for cuts in rent and subsidised business rates.

    Many women prefer to try before they buy with skin care and with make up and perfume.
    Next will trade well there.

    The other floors will still find uses as services, leisure or restaurants or smaller A1 use.

  4. As someone working within this industry I find it difficult to see how this will work in a practical sense in terms of the current beauty hall environment and brand/concession partners etc. I can’t see a number of premium beauty brands wanting to be in this space as it essentially becomes a sort of SpaceNK who already have the market for this.

  5. Like the other commentator, Matt I disagree with you.
    Beauty is booming, and I say that as someone 10+ HQ Level experience who has moved from fashion to beauty (including some brands like New Look and Marks & Spencer’s!) I’ve seen the post-Coronavirus boom in beauty sales continue.
    Granted it’s moved online, but it will move back to omnichannel once this horrid virus is over. Yup, the beauty stores will also need to adhere to stricter post-Coronavirus cleaning.
    Nonetheless beauty is booming, and it will continue


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