Tuesday, 30 June 2009

When store closure can be a good thing...

Fashionista remembers as if it were yesterday (and it practically was...) that Liberty launched its first concept store in London's Sloane Street, marking the brand's first departure in London from its flagship Regent Street store. Now, less than a year after opening, the store is already marked for closure. Pessmistic fashionistas will see this as another casualty of the recession. Liberty, however, is pitching this as great news, having received an unsolicited request for the premises from a European brand seeking prime retail space in London. Better news still, Liberty will not use the move as an opportunity to lose staff and stock - all of which will be transferred to the Regent Street store.

Is this an indication that department store expansions don't work? House of Fraser had a fleet of nationwide stores (including the once legendary but now closed Dickins & Jones and Barkers) but has found itself closing stores in the last 5 years. On the other hand, both Harvey Nichols and Selfridges have opened new stores in the UK. So what is key to successful expansion? geography? local competition? timing? excellent marketing and PR? Fashionista suspects it comes down to all of the above, and this leaves Fashionista wondering: is Liberty's news a positive indication that the market is turning (let's hope so), or is it clever PR spin on expansion that hasn't survived?