“For some time now it has been using unexpected or creative brand activations and collaborations as well as cultural programs to not only bring people into the store, like a kind of immersive magazine, but also to establish its full authority in understanding cultural and consumer trends,” called them.
The department store also benefited from being a small chain, Ms. Green added. It only has three other stores in Birmingham and Manchester which allows for more creativity.
Recent examples: The Oxford Street store has an area for second-hand items and another area that sells clothing for rent, both reflecting the company’s sustainability campaign.
“The levers for buying something are changing, and increasingly it is driven by service, experience, or part of a community,” said Ms. Green.
Still, the pandemic and other changes that are rocking the industry have taken their toll. In July 2020, the privately owned company cut 450 employees, which corresponds to around 14 percent of its workforce. Since the death in April of Galen Weston, the Canadian billionaire who bought Selfridges in 2003, the chain has reportedly been on sale at £ 4 billion for the group’s UK and Irish businesses.
It was undoubtedly also affected by the loss of international tourism, which has only moderately recovered this year; Prior to the pandemic, international visitors made up 40 percent of Selfridge’s buyers. Domestically, Selfridges faces a challenge as London’s Oxford Street has become less of a destination, pedestrian traffic has still declined by more than a third and one in five stores is permanently closed, the local authority said.
While the past year and a half has been painful for many retailers, the luxury market is expected to recover by late 2022 or early 2023, according to a report by Bain & Company. At Selfridges, so-called social spaces used for restaurants and experiences are often less profitable than a luxury concession, according to a report by The Business of Fashion. But those features, including a garden center and live music from street musicians, were critical to the chain’s identity after the lockdown. The London store has an “Experiences Concierge”, which will be extended to the regional stores later this year. Instead of gift vouchers for products, experiences such as skateboarding lessons and cinema trips can now be given away.