Robbs transformation is un-Beale-ievable

Improvements to the store frontage underway (19 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

Improvements to the store frontage underway (19 Aug 2010)

Less than three months after acquiring Robbs of Hexham, indie department store operator Beales has wasted no time at all in sprucing up the store and its ranges ahead of next month’s official relaunch.

I’ve visited the store on three occasions since the takeover – most recently a week ago – and it has been a hive of makeover activity each time. New wooden flooring and white ceramic tiles have replaced the mangy old carpets, while the entire shop seems to be getting a fresh coat of paint – crisp white in the stair areas and black for the displays, but with various bold colours used to delineate different departments. With the store’s windows cleared of the clutter that was blocking views in or out, the overall effect of the changes is to create a shop that feels airy, bright and modern.

A sign of change (19 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

A sign of change (19 Aug 2010)

The layout and merchandising is also getting a welcome overhaul. The new cosmetics hall, for example, is taking shape at the front of the store, and the menswear department has enjoyed a welcome refresh of its ranges. Beales’ new own-brand quality formalwear, Broadbents & Boothroyds, is in place, while the addition of some younger and trendier menswear names is another positive change.

Job opportunities (19 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

Job opportunities (19 Aug 2010)

In addition to Wallis, more quality concessions also look to be on the way, with Robbs’ window advertising jobs at Jacques Vert, Jane Shilton, Joules and Estee Lauder, as well as for a new hair salon.

New signage awaited (19 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

New signage awaited (19 Aug 2010)

Black paint in, blue paint out (19 Aug 2010). Photograph by Graham Soult

Black paint in, blue paint out (19 Aug 2010)

As I hoped, there are also signs that the outside of the store is getting some attention, with black paintwork already replacing the faded blue. One can only assume that new white-on-black signage will follow shortly, though I haven’t noticed any planning application for advertising consent as yet.

All in all, it’s quite a transformation already for a store that seemed destined for closure barely three months ago.

6 Responses to “Robbs transformation is un-Beale-ievable”

  1. Gabbyco said:

    Aug 29, 10 at 13:13

    Beales are not that good. I have seen what they did to the former Bentalls (Fenwick) stores in Tonbridge, Worthing, and Ealing and going from an upmarket Department store to a value based one – they are not that good.

    May be it will work up there in the North East. Tunbridge Wells Bentalls luckily became Fenwicks even if it is small

  2. Soult's Retail View» Blog Archive » Horley’s old Woolies – long closed, but hard to miss said:

    Oct 29, 10 at 21:17

    [...] the former Westgate department store in Rochdale (now renamed as Whitakers), and, of course, the transformed Robbs department store up here in [...]

  3. Soult's Retail View » Blog Archive » Why does Stockton have so many empty shops? BBC1 tonight at 7.30 might have some answers… said:

    Dec 06, 10 at 18:19

    [...] high streets; coincidentally, the programme also has a report (not involving me) on the transformation of Robbs of Hexham, under the new ownership of Beales. Hexham's transformed Robbs store (4 Dec [...]

  4. Dave Riley said:

    Dec 08, 10 at 19:03

    Will be surprised if the all-new Robbs doesn’t suffer as the previous one did,with or without Tony Brown.I saw the feature on the store on your programme earlier this week and,co-incidentally visited the store earlier that day.
    Briefly,I wanted to buy 2 pan sets from the store which were to be,believe it or not,Christmas presents for my 2 children and their partners.They were offered for sale at £127.50 per set,reduced,apparently,from £170.00 per set.Regardless of the reduction I asked if they could do me a better price and if so I would take both sets there and then.Stock turnover,cash in till,space in the warehouse etc etc.I had set a figure of £110.00 per set which I thought quite reasonable.The response was an absolute,stone-cold flat refusal to negotiate.Not interested one jot.
    I have taken my business elsewhere and bought the same set of pans,online,from Sainsbury’s at £100.00 per set.If Brown is a dedicated retailer his staff aren’t.I’m sure he would have negotiated a price and I’m sure that Lord Sugar would have as well.I regularly visit Hexham but will no longer visit Robbs,and it looked like not many other people do either.If they don’t want my money someone else will.
    All told,a very poor experience.
    Could this be passed on to Mr Brown on my behalf?
    I cannot find his e-mail address,or,for that matter,Beales.
    Dave Riley

  5. Beales Employee said:

    Dec 10, 10 at 21:00

    As for the comment regarding the pans, beales offers a ‘price match’ that the employee should have been aware time take your concern to store director as they are likely to be more informed about procedures.
    Secondly if you wish to reach Tony, you must go via the Beales Of Bournemouth Head Office. Number can be found on line.

  6. Soult's Retail View » The closure of Hoopers department store in Carlisle, and what might replace it said:

    May 29, 12 at 10:10

    [...] Of course, Beales would face the same issue as Hoopers in competing with House of Fraser and Debenhams, but would probably have several advantages over the current occupier. With a store estate six times the size of Hoopers’, one of these would be Beales’ greater buying power. Other benefits would include Beales’ slightly less upmarket positioning – not so much in direct competition with the ‘big two’ up the road – and its existing brand awareness in Cumbria, built up through its established stores in Kendal and (over the border in Northumberland) Hexham. [...]

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