Debenhams’ In Administration. Is This The End of The Great British High Street?

Back on the 11th of August 2018 I wrote a piece called “Mike Ashley’s Take Over of House Of Fraser: A Solution For The Great British High Street? 

 

I’m sad to see that today Debenhams has gone into administration and is set to close at least 50 stores across the UK.

 

Yes, Mike Ashley has just tried to fund the chain out of administration with his 200 million pound rescue deal. But honestly, Mike Ashley have you made any changes to House Of Fraser or Sports Direct that warrant you being the CEO of Debenhams? No! Unsurprisingly, Debenhams not interested.

 

How many more warning flags in the shape of large chains going under do we need to see being waved before change happens to overhaul the Great British High Street? 

 

I know our government is too preoccupied with Brexit but we can’t ignore the fact that our retail is going under. Debenhams holds anchor unit positions in shopping malls and town centers. Not only will these massive units create massive voids in busy shopping districts which landlords will struggle to fill unless divided up into very small units. This will have an outward effect on other retail units as well, such as decreasing rents, or the uncertainty will cause prospective retailers to stay away.

 

It leaves me wondering if High Streets are going to become ghost towns.

 

With that being said, we need to see this as a wakeup call. The way our High Streets oporate must change. Regardless of archaic town planning laws.

 

Here’s a proposal:

  • Shops need to be open when people actually want to shop. (After work – they need to be open until 10 pm)
  • Business rates need to change to support retailers rather than add extra cost burdens. If counsels could show that they are making town centers more customer friendly businesses would probably be okay with paying the rates. Couple that with giving new retailers discounts to help them build their business.
  • Counsels should then stop outsourcing the management of car parks, bring it in house and use the increase in profit to subsidise the deficit in business rates.
  • There needs to be an increase in funding for public transport. Basically, it needs to be so easy to get to shops so there is no excuse to buy online!
  • Retailers also need to think about their shop layout. In the age of beautiful concepts and stylish design making your store Instagram worthy can do wonders for marketing… Why not make all of your client base influencers for your brand?!

 

That’s just some easy starting places. However, until we bring the High Street up to 2019 standards it’s going to get worse before it gets better!

 

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Natasha