Debenhams boss shuns selling stuff

Helen Cahill
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Debenhams has been shifting its product mix towards beauty (Source: Getty)

Debenhams chairman Sir Ian Cheshire has warned retailers against selling too much “stuff”.

At a global retail conference in Dubai, Cheshire advised fellow retailers to provide “real services” and give consumers, particularly the millennial generation, great experiences, rather than focusing on just selling goods.

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Speaking at World Retail Congress, Cheshire said: “The next generation is behaving differently, spending differently and interacting differently.

“To them it is experience, not stuff that matters.

“As a department store, Debenhams sells a lot of beauty products but increasingly that is through a makeover, an experience customers can share with friends and combine with a coffee shop visit.

“It’s not enough simply to have the stuff. You’ve got to wrap it in a set of experiences.”

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Retailers have become obsessed with giving people “experiences” as shoppers have started to shun traditional forms of shopping. Consumers are buying more online, and are going out less. However, when they do go out, they are spending more time in stores and ultimately spend more money.

The Apple store, for example, is as much as place for socialising as it is shopping, but when visitors do spend money there, they splash out. Ultimately, this means retailers must grow their online offerings, and invest more in their physical stores.

“It is an opportunity for great retailers offering unique products and great experiences to build truly great global brands but it means that the bar has been raised,” Cheshire said.

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