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Department store John Lewis has dropped down to joint third in a ranking of the best high street shops by consumer research group Which?.

The annual survey asked more than 10,000 consumers about their shopping experiences at 100 major retailers, with the customer scoring based on satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending each shop.

DIY store Toolstation is joint-top for the second year running, having shared first place with John Lewis in 2016, while Richer Sounds is in the number one spot after coming joint-third last year.

John Lewis, however, had to settle for joint third alongside luxury department store Harvey Nichols in the ranking for best high street store. Harvey Nichols was also the biggest riser in the ranking, as last year the retailer was joint 21st out of 100, with customers citing a love of its products as well as the stores themselves.

Other fashion retailers who made the top 30 included outdoor clothing chains Cotswold Outdoor, Go Outdoors, footwear store Clarks, department store Fenwick, maternity and baby retailer Jojo Maman Bébé, Laura Ashley, Bonmarché and Selfridges.

There were, however, a number of fashion brands gracing the bottom as the worst high street shops including Peacocks, Topshop and Topman, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, JD Sports and Sports Direct. While the lowest ranked of the 100 retailers covered in the Which? survey was Morrisons, the supermarket could only manage a 55 percent score, compared to the number 1 shop that received 80 percent.

Polish retailer Reserved opening UK store this autumn

Polish retailer Reserved, part of LPP SA, one of the fastest-growing clothing companies in Central and Eastern Europe, is set to open its debut UK store in part of the former BHS flagship on London’s Oxford Street this autumn.

Reserved, which is the Polish version of H&M and Zara, has taken a 32,000 square foot store on London’s Oxford street that will house the fast fashion brand’s latest trends for women, men and children.

Commenting on its UK launch, Sławomir Ronkowski, LPP communications director said: “This is an important move for us as we look to grow the Reserved brand in Europe. London is an iconic fashion capital and crucial retail market, and the Oxford Street launch will help establish LPP as a global fashion retailer.”

Polish retailer Reserved opening UK store this autumn

In 2017, Reserved, the flagship brand of LPP will debut in four countries, the UK, Serbia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The company has also added that it is to accelerate its development in Russia and the Ukraine, where it plans to open new stores and launch online sales of all its brands.

In the UK, the Reserved flagship, which is due to open in September, will follow the launch of a dedicated UK e-commerce offering to introduce the brand to the British consumer. However, the brand has added that at present there are “no plans to expand to other UK locations”.

Polish retailer Reserved opening UK store this autumn

Reserved to open debut flagship store in London this September

In its recent statement, LPP stated that the total investment of the company in 2017 will amount to approximately 440 million Polish Zloty, around 90 million pounds.

LPP also has its sights set on the German market, adding that its expansion will be “consistently implemented”, and this year it has already opened a Reserved flagship in Hamburg, which will be followed by openings in Berlin and Cologne. The group sees “great potential” in the German market and considers it a long-term investment. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Germany, where the company manages 16 stores, was the fourth country in terms of revenues.

Founded 21 years ago by civil engineering graduate Marek Piechocki and fellow entrepreneur Jerzy Lubianiec, whose initials form the basis of the group’s name, LPP listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2001. It is now one of Poland’s top 20 listed companies.

Polish retailer Reserved opening UK store this autumn

LPP has over 1,700 stores worldwide with revenues of over 6 billion Polish Zloty (approximately 1.2 billion pounds) in 2016, an increase of 17 percent compared to the previous year. The business operates across Europe including Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Baltic countries, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Croatia. In 2015, it expanded into the Middle East with stores in Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and in 2016, LPP opened a store in the UAE.

The group has five brands: Reserved which is classed as the affordable clothing retailer with similarities to H&M and Zara for its on-trend pieces; House, which offers denim style clothing; Mohito, which joined LPP in 2009, offers clothing for “confident and independent” women; Cropp is the group’s youth brand; and Sinsay, founded in 2013, is dedicated to everyday styling for girls.

Images: courtesy of Reserved/LPP

UK shoppers seek out 'honest' brands in uncertain times

London - In these current political and economically uncertain times it should come as little surprise that consumers seek out brands and retailers they feel they can trust. New research shows that UK shoppers favour retailers which are both honest and affordable according to global trend research firm WGSN, as consumers become more thoughtful with where they chose to spend their hard-earned cash.

The integrity and value offered by a number of UK high street retailers are driving consumer spend according to WGSN’s recently launched Barometer. Nearly all of the top ten most-considered womenswear retailers in the UK, which includes the likes of Primark, M&S and New Look are highly-perceived to be both honest and ‘worth every penny’, a move which has been linked by WGSN to current social and political uncertainty following Brexit.

UK shoppers seek out 'honest' brands in uncertain times

UK consumers favour Next, Primark and M&S in uncertain times for their value and integrity

Next came out on top as the most-considered womenswear retailer in the UK, ranking the highest in purchase consideration and over-indexed in its perception of honesty by 3.6 percent according to the Barometer results. WGSN Barometer results are based on participation from female survey respondents aged 16 to 74 across the UK and US, as well as the tracking of over 100 metrics to compare performance on key drivers of customer satisfaction, ranging from offer (shopping experience, range and quality) to value (prices, offers, sales and promotions).

Primark came was ranked as the second most-considered womenswear retailer, and over-index on honesty by 8.9 percent, followed by Marks & Spencer in third place with an over-index on honesty of 9.2 percent. Overall the top ten womenswear retailers all heavily over-indexed when it came to the image association of being ‘worth every penny’, with Primark leading the way with a 30.5 percent over-average, followed by Matalan at 22.4 percent and Asda at 21.5 percent. Following increased polarisation and uncertainty in the light of multiplied events across the world which have been amplified by social media, more consumers than ever seek out solutions they can control and which help them mediate the chaos, according to WGSN.

UK shoppers seek out 'honest' brands in uncertain times

Although what may come next in terms of social and political turmoil remains unclear, it impacts on the fashion industry has already been noted through this indication of consumer sentiment. “With so much global uncertainty and political noise at the moment, consumers are reaching out for brands to be the new leaders,” said Lorna Hall, Head of WGSN Insight. “Brands excelling in this space are the ones that are re-strategising to put ‘doing good’ at the core of the company, ensuring honesty, transparency and authenticity are the new business metrics. Regardless of the demographic, honesty speaks volume to consumers who are careful and sceptical about where their eyeballs and money go.”

“The high ranking of honesty together with affordability shows that both elements are pivotal for consumer consideration – it’s not an either-or situation. Brands who are honest are quite simply transparent on their pricing,” she added.

Photos: Pexels

Flannels to open in Meadowhall this month

British Land, joint owner of Meadowhall, Yorkshire’s shopping centre, has confirmed five new lettings including new stores for luxury retailer Flannels and Swiss watch manufacturer Tag Heuer, in addition to a number of fashion store refurbishments.

Flannels will open a 10,000 square foot store this month, located on Meadowhall’s Park Lane mall. The store will offer a range of luxury men’s and women’s designer fashion items from brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Hugo Boss, Stone Island, Belstaff and Paul Smith.

Jenna Triscott marketing manager for Flannels, said: “Meadowhall’s affluent and loyal customer base with a desire for designer brands, made it the perfect choice when selecting the location for our debut store in the region. We look forward to opening our new store within Meadowhall’s prestigious Park Lane and joining this thriving retail community.”

In addition, Tag Heuer is set to open its largest UK store in the shopping centre with a 1,820 square foot unit located next to Goldsmiths and opposite Reiss.

Flannels to open in Meadowhall this month

The other three lettings are organic natural health and beauty retailer Neal’s Yard, Luxury Belgian chocolatier, Godiva, and Nespresso.

Meadowhall confirms five fashion retailers to redesign stores

The shopping centre, which is currently undergoing a 60 million pound transformation, also confirmed that five fashion retailers House of Fraser, AllSaints, Hollister, Hugo Boss and River Island are set to redesign their stores.

Department store House of Fraser will undergo refurbishments completing in September this year and is set to introduce new brands to the store including Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren handbags.

AllSaints plans to install a new double height shop front in its 6,800 square foot store, while Hollister will refurbish its 7,500 square foot store and install a new double height shop front, and Hugo Boss is refurbishing its 5,200 square foot store located next to Diesel and House of Fraser to showcase its new menswear brand.

In addition, high street fashion retailer River Island will be upsizing and refurbishing its existing store to create a new 21,000 square foot unit.

Richard Crowther, asset Manager for British Land, added: “Our strategy is to ensure Meadowhall’s offer reflects consumers’ changing modern lifestyles. Attracting these premium brands to the line-up achieves this objective and is a great endorsement of the enhanced environment we and our occupiers are creating at the centre.”

The news follows a strong period of leasing at Meadowhall with the announcement of new retail signings and upsizes for Primark, Sports Direct, Wilko, Timberland, Schuh Kids and Second Cup in the last six months.

Images: courtesy of Meadowhall

Fashion and lifestyle retail concept 18montrose, developed by fashion distributor and marketing firm Four Marketing, has announced that it is to open a permanent store in the new Coal Drops Yard scheme behind King’s Cross station in London.

The retailer has taken a 5,400 square foot stop at the 90 million pound Coal Drops Yard scheme, according to the Evening Standard.

The opening follows the retailer’s temporary “preview store” on Stable Street, King’s Cross at the end of 2015.

Commenting on the location, Gino Da'Prato from Four Marketing said on the developer's website: "King’s Cross was a natural fit to launch our unique fashion retail environment. It’s an exciting area with a bright retail future."

Due to open next month, the permanent London store will join its other shops in Glasgow and Nottingham, where it sells labels including Stone Island, Adidas Statement Footwear, Common Projects and Maison Margiela.

Coal Drops Yard is being developed by Argent and when fully open in late 2018 the Victorian arches and viaduct spaces will contain about 50 stores and restaurants.

Why Abercrombie & Fitch could benefit from a new owner

Teenage fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch is thought to be looking for a new owner, having approached an investment bank to gain insight into the interest from other retailers and groups.

The troubled retailer has been struggling for years, having failed to keep up with changing times in the fast fashion industry. It lost its fashion credibility much like its sister company Hollister, who's relevancy has also undeniably waned since its 90s heyday.

But the Ohio, Oregon-based company could turn its business around under new leadership, as it struggles to gain a foothold with its new target demographic.

As part of its attempted revamp, A&F in 2016 changed tactic and moved away from its core collegiate customer, aiming to attract a more sophisticated and older demographic. Its advertisements, once a source of inspiration captured by Bruce Weber's all-American clean-cut-and-sexy aesthetic, became dull and lifeless, failing to communicate what the brand now stood for. It's clothing offer was once fashion for beautiful preppy young adults, before it suddenly became a product without a difference or usp.

A&F lost its aesthetic as much as its ideology

According to Forbes, "as hot as the brand was in the late 1990s, with Hollister following suit in the early and mid-2000s, these two companies have fallen out of favor in recent years, not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but from an ideological one as well."

Reports that the company discriminated against overweight customers, or disabled ones, or Muslim job applicants only reinforced the growing suspicion that the brand was only really suited to one particular type of customer: white, conventionally attractive and thin.

Earlier this year, The Business of Fashion, published an article why “America’s most beloved mall brands”—J. Crew, Gap, The Limited, and Abercrombie & Fitch—are all in crisis. The short answer being the Internet. Millennials tend to spend money on gadgets, rather than clothes, and rarely go to the mall. The middle of the market has disappeared.

According to the New Yorker, "aimless, open-minded shoppers are happy to haunt Zara and H&M, whereas discerning ones turn every purchase into a research project," scouting for niche brands that have something to say.

Millennials don't want to be part of a tribe. They want authenticity, to stand out in social media as themselves, not as fashion caricatures. The Abercrombie & Fitch that once dressed muscled Springbreakers on holiday, no longer is appealing to a generation who want to be individuals.

Under new ownership, A&F could re-find its footing and attract a new Millenial customer. There will always be room for brands who are aspirational, selling us dreams and a lifestyle. But that dream needs to be inclusive.

Photo credit:Abercrombie campaign by Bruce Weber

Canada Goose to open debut European flagship store in London

London - Outerwear specialist Canada Goose is set to its first European flagship store in the heart of London, UK as well as a new flagship stores in Chicago, US this autumn as part its global expansion plan. The fashion retailer is also set to expand its e-commerce channel into seven new markets this year, including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Canada Goose to open two new flagship stores in London and Chicago

“Opening our first European store is not only a milestone for Canada Goose, but it’s turning a dream into reality. London and Chicago are world-renowned shopping destinations and I’m proud to bring our Canadian heritage, experience and unparalleled product to their historic streets,” said Dani Reiss, President & CEO, Canada Goose in a statement.

Canada Goose to open debut European flagship store in London

Canada Goose new flagship store in London is set to be located on Regent Street, one of the UK leading shopping streets. The exact location of the store has yet to be announced, but the store is set to open in time for the holiday season. Reiss stresses the UK remains an “important market” for the brand. “London and the UK, in general, is a very important market for us,” said Reiss to the Evening Standard. “I don’t think Brexit has affected London’s reputation. It’s one of the most important cities for brands to be present in, in this global world.”

Canada Goose to expand e-commerce into 7 new EU markets

Overseas in Chicago, Canada Goose aims to open its flagship store on Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue. Both flagship stores are set to feature design elements inspired by Canada, including marble quarried in British Columbia. The new flagships will also offer the widest assortment of seasonal collections as well as exclusive collaborations while offering consumers the chance to engage and learn more about the brand’s 60-year history.

The move follows on from the opening of Canada Goose first flagship stores in Toronto and New York. At the moment the company aims to open between 15 to 20 stores from now to 2020, remaining selective about the markets it opens in and locations. The physical store expansion comes after the company’s successful stock market listing in March. Since its stock market debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange, company shares has increased 38 percent.

Photos: Courtesy of Canada Goose

Gap now available on Amazon India

US fashion giant Gap announced yesterday that the popular brand is now available on Amazon Fashion in India through a partnership between Amazon India and Arvind Lifestyle Brand Limited, Gap's franchise partner in India since 2015. This means not only availability to all of the 19,000 postal codes across the country but also free one-day and two-day delivery through Amazon Prime.

“We are very excited to provide India-wide access to Gap merchandise for customers with Amazon Fashion. As a front runner in the online retail space, Amazon Fashion is the perfect partner for an iconic brand such as Gap to reach customers in India markets where Gap doesn’t currently have physical stores. We see tremendous support from our shoppers around the exclusive Gap store on Amazon and we look forward to creating new Gap fans in the Indian market,” commented J. Suresh, managing director and CEO at Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd.

Gap now available on Amazon India

Customers can now shop for Gap's Summer 2017 collection, which includes t-shirts, jeans, dresses, caps and shorts as well as GapKids and babyGap articles, some of which sport the popular logo. Prices start from 799 rupees (around 12.50 US dollars) for a t-shirt.

“The addition of this classic brand is a testament to our commitment towards providing the world’s most popular fashion brands that customers absolutely love to shop for. With this association, Amazon.in becomes the first e-commerce player to make Gap available across India’s 19,000 post codes,” said Arun Sirdeshmukh, head of Amazon Fashion India.

Amazon is trying not to make the same mistake it made in China, namely losing out to the competition in terms of market share. Thus in India, Amazon is following an aggressive strategy that includes expanding its portfolio of international brands as well as attracting local sellers to its site and battling it out in a price war for ever deeper discounts with rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Photos: Amazon India website
Fashercise opens debut store

Luxury online sportswear platform Fashercise, founded by Alexandra Vanthournout and Camille Roegiers in 2013, has opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in London, selling an edit of its leading designer activewear lines.

The Fashercise store is located within Studio One in Islington, a boutique studio that combines reformer pilates, yoga, boxing, barre and suspension training, close to Kings Cross, which the brand states represents the “perfect partnership” as both brands share a mutual desire to break down the barriers to a healthy lifestyle.

Fashercise opens debut store

The shop stocks the e-commerce platforms best independent activewear labels including Lucas Hugh, We Are Handsome, LNDR, Laain, Varley, Dear Kate, Pointe Studio and Jogha, as well as the brand’s exclusive collection of sweatshirts with slogans such as ‘Fashercise’, ’Namaste Bitches’ and ‘Happy’ created in partnership with London-based On The Rise.

Fashercise opens debut store

The move to open an offline offering coincided with a record-breaking few months for Fashercise, as the brand reported a 100 percent growth in sales in the last quarter. This has been helped by sales of bestselling Fab by Fabienne Star Boxing gloves that grew by 130 percent, with boxing becoming the most searched for term on the website overtaking yoga as the most sought after activity in 2017.

Fashercise opens debut store

Fashercise open first bricks-and-mortar store in London

Camille Roegiers co-founder of Fashercise said: “Fashercise has demonstrated significant growth since our launch because we continue to deliver on our promise to provide our customers a place that stocks independent, cool, edgy brands alongside content which motivates them.

Fashercise opens debut store

“Fashercise is all about balance, with fitness being part of your everyday life and enabling women to live independent, healthy lives whilst still having time to relax and enjoy themselves. This move to a bricks and mortar space allows us to create the Fashercise world where we can meet our customers in real life, invite them round for a juice or glass of bubbly and have a little lycra party in the comfort of our beautiful new shop.”

Fashercise opens debut store

Alexandra Vanthournout, co-founder of Fashercise added: “Fashercise has moved from a blog to a successful online business, through which I aim to help empower women with by promoting body positivity and a healthy lifestyle, whilst building a community around those values.

“I’m so looking forward to this next chapter, where we can evolve our online vision into a real-life experience for our customers and readers in our new London space.”

Fashercise is now open at Studio One, 237 Caledonian Road, London.

Images: courtesy of Fashercise

LVMH to start new e-commerce site '24 Sevres'

After weeks of speculation about LVMH's top secret project, the veil of silence has finally been lifted and the French luxury conglomerate confirmed yesterday that it will launch its new multi-brand e-commerce website '24 Sèvres' on June 6.

The new boutique shopping site is a foray into multi-brand luxury e-commerce with much at stake. On 6th June, 24 Sèvres will start in 70 markets worldwide and offer luggage, fashion articles and cosmetics. Ultimately, it will target 75 markets worldwide.

24 Sèvres is named after the Parisian Rue de Sèvres location of Le Bon Marché in the chic 7th arrondissement. While rumours of a shopping platform under the Le Bon Marché umbrella, LVMH’s upmarket chain of department stores, have been floating around for months, it is now confirmed.

LVMH's boutique website 24 Sevres will launch on June 6

The new website will offer products of more than 150 brands, among them 20 of LVMH's own. It will also be the only multi-brand website to sell Dior and Louis Vuitton products. The luxury conglomerate has invested a few million euros into the new digital venture, which is led by former Apple executive Ian Rogers and his team of 60 employees. He joined the company already in 2015 to focus on this project.

“We believe we are on the cusp of revealing something very exciting,” said the 44-year-old a month ago when speaking to the New York Times. According to Rogers, the new boutique website will provide international clients with “very Parisian choices”. “The idea is to be attractive with unique products, not necessarily have a huge offering,” he added.

Already in 2009, LVMH had to close its e-commerce website eLuxury, which did not succeed in the multi-brand luxury space. The difference now, says Rogers, is timing. But competitors like Yoox Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa, FarFetch and MatchesFashion.com have also been trying for a while now to get and keep a piece of the online luxury pie. It remains to be seen if 24 Sèvres can persist and even make a dent in the sector. In any case, many will be waiting for the launch on 6th June.

Photo: LVMH website