October 4, 2019 | Blog

5 retailers defying high street uncertainty

It’s not all doom and gloom

Today’s high street often hits the headlines with adversity as we see news about more and more retailers closing stores across the country. But what about those retailers who, amid the concern, are actually seeing sales and profits surge as a result of thriving high street stores? What are they doing that other retailers may not be?

According to Which?, two-thirds of us shop on our local high street at least once a fortnight. And we all have our reasons for doing so. Despite the rise in online shopping, there’s no doubt that we still continue to visit our high street shops because as consumers, we like to touch and try things before we decide to buy them, or seek the advice of a member of staff. Or is it simply because we enjoy the entire experience of leaving our homes to indulge in a bit of retail therapy? Whatever the reason, there is still plenty of evidence to demonstrate that retailers can prosper within this challenging industry.

This blog looks into 5 of some of today’s most successful retailers who, despite much high-street gloom, are creating a shopping experience that drives engagement, loyalty, and most importantly, gets feet through the doors of its stores.

Busy high street in the UK


1. Beaverbrooks

One happy Vista customer, Beaverbrooks, recently reported a profit surge for the fifth consecutive year, as it celebrates its 100-year anniversary. As sales jumped 2.9% to £127.4 million, Britain’s historic jewellery store has put its latest success down to the unique customer experience gained when visiting their high street store. “The jewellery market is highly competitive, but we firmly believe that the experience of coming into a high street store adds value to our customers” says Beaverbrook’s MD Anna Blackburn. What a way to celebrate turning 100!


2. Primark

Value fashion retailer, Primark, boasts one of the leading positions on the high street today. Primark recently published a 25% jump in half-year profits, as growth in the UK market continues to fuel its overall performance. With no option in place to buy products online, we can safely assume that the entirety of Primark’s success boils down to the positive experience their customers are receiving in-store.

With no e-commerce platform, Primark have had to invest in their brick-and-mortar footprint to provide a service to its customers like no other. If you want to shop at Primark, you cannot do so from the comfort of your own home. So, although it may not be commercially viable for Primark to offer its customers the ability to shop online, this does not stop them from yielding profitability on the high street. Earlier this year, you may remember Primark opening their biggest store to date in Birmingham, showcasing an impressive 160,000 sqft over five shop floors, complete with a café, a beauty studio, a barber shop and three individual dining experiences. And when the doors opened in April, they did not fail to impress. Primark has since continued to grow from strength to strength as they continue to prove somewhat immortal within today’s ‘dying’ high street.


3. Lush

Dubbed one of the ‘stand-out’ brands on the high street, Lush Cosmetics is casting its net to innovation and is reaping the results. Similarly to Primark, Lush made a bold brick-and-mortar move as it opened up its flagship store in Liverpool earlier this year, equipped with a hair lab offering trims and treatments, an in-store florist, a perfume library and even a kid’s play area. Customers were nothing short of impressed, as Chief Executive and founder Mark Constantine puts its innovation down to the fact that Lush have “always been a highly creative business, and that has driven everything we do”.

In line with their creativity, Lush has also invested in emerging technologies like their Lush Lens app, allowing shoppers to hold their phone above an item to access information and product demos. Lush’s innovation behind their new in-store experiences show no signs of slowing down, as their new Fresh store in Paris allows shoppers to even have fresh moisturisers created in store that are infused with freshly cut flowers from an on-site florist. Development in the customer experience has been a key facilitator in Lush’s most recent results and marks one to watch on the high street if other retailers want to gain similar rewards.


4. JD Sports

JD Sports are pioneering in-store technologies that are designed to provide a multichannel shopping experience for their customers. Mobile apps, interactive mirrors, on-screen video advertisements, digital kiosks and iPads are just some of the ways that JD Sports have invested in the refurbishment of their stores to provide their customers with a service that stands out from their competition. This year, JD Sports exceeded market expectations with a 49.2% increase in sales, making it a standout performer against the likes of other retailers who are otherwise struggling to bring foot traffic.


5. Oasis and Warehouse Group

As part of a new turnaround strategy aimed at engaging new customers, the Oasis and Warehouse Group have also turned around strong profitability for the year. Oasis opened five new stores across the UK and signed a deal with Sainsbury’s for supermarket concessions, whilst Warehouse’s success was driven by a strategic product proposition that resonated with its existing customers. Together, the Group also acquired online menswear retailer The Idle Man, all of which brought total sales for the Group up by 6.5% for the year. By combining investment in digital channels and new local stores, another Vista customer has been able to successfully challenge the skeptics of the high street and achieve fantastic results.

Each of these retailers delivers enough proof that retail businesses still have the opportunity to thrive in a challenging market, and how reacting to customer demand can drive positive change to brick-and-mortar environments. New technologies and unique in-store experiences are some of the key factors that ultimately get us off our couches and into physical stores, and it’s those retailers who are embracing these changes that are basking in the retail bright spots.

Read more about how Vista provides technology support services to retailers throughout the UK and Europe here.

Post by Emily Howard 04.10.19