Days department store in the ex-BHS in Carmarthen: what we know so far
After details first appeared in a planning application in February, more details are emerging about the new department store concept planned by EWM Group for Carmarthen’s former BHS at 2-5 Guildhall Square.
In preparation for the upcoming April edition of Soult’s Retail Report, I’ve been looking at what we know so far, and taking a brief look at what the new store needs to do to succeed.
What will the store include?
The 16,900 sq ft department store – to be called Days, after the group’s owner Philip Day – will reportedly feature the Peacocks, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Home and Jane Norman brands, alongside the recently acquired Austin Reed.
‘Golf Shop’ is also mentioned, though it seems likely that this is an error, and should probably refer to EWM’s Golf Company brand. There will also be an instore restaurant, with 45-50 jobs created across the store as a whole.
Is there a precedent for Days?
It’s not especially unusual to find multiple EWM Group brands under one roof these days – Fox Valley in Sheffield, for example, includes a combined Peacocks, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home store.
— Fox Valley (@FoxValleySheff) June 9, 2016
Meanwhile, the curious Haskins Retail Centre in Shepton Mallet features the same three brands in a pseudo-department-store format alongside (bizarrely) carpets, furniture, footwear, Aldi and Screwfix.
Curious not-quite-department store in Shepton Mallet, featuring carpets, Screwfix and Edinburgh Woollen Mill pic.twitter.com/oGwfs5bIXP
— Graham Soult (@soult) September 9, 2016
How can EWM Group make Days a success?
The Haskins example shows the challenge of creating something that feels like a distinct store in its own right, rather than simply lots of different brands cohabiting in the same space.
For inspiration, Days could do a lot worse than look at the impressive Sandersons, also at Sheffield Fox Valley, which I blogged about last September, noting that “the brands and concessions never overshadow or contradict the overall look and feel of the store”; instead, there is “a coherent story tying everything together”.
Taken individually, EWM Group has some strong brands and decent products, covering a good range of value (Peacocks) and more premium (Austin Reed) price points, as well as the eponymous Edinburgh Woollen Mill with what sometimes appears to be its DFS-style neverending Sale. The success of Days will depend on how well these are packaged up into something that is even better than just the sum of the parts.
Has EWM Group tried to open a department store before?
Well, very nearly. Though Days will be EWM Group’s first department store – and, according to Drapers, likely the first of a rollout across UK locations – it’s worth reminding ourselves that this isn’t the first time Philip Day has sought to venture into this area.
Back in 2012, there were serious talks about Day rescuing Hoopers department store in Carlisle, with plans to trade EWM Group brands alongside partner concessions in menswear and womenswear. Those talks continued through into 2013, but apparently stalled due to an issue with access to the rear of the store.
— Graham Soult (@soult) September 20, 2016
The ex-Hoopers building, for now, remains closed (though the as-yet-unnamed new owner has been teasing the opening of a “refurbished store” since September), but, four years on from those abortive talks, Philip Day – with his newly expanded portfolio of brands, and now a reported interest in snapping up footwear brand Jones Bootmaker – is arguably in a better position than ever to give department stores another shot.
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