The past 18 months have been bruising ones for the UK’s high street retailers, who were already under pressure even before the lockdown struck. We have bid a sad goodbye to some familiar household names, such as Top Shop, Debenhams, and chocolate retailer Thorntons. However, others, such as Next, are still thriving. So how do they do it?
Next, the clothing and homeware brand, had already established a strong online presence before the pandemic, which enabled it to support the majority of its 500 plus stores during the lockdown. In fact, Next will celebrate 40 years of high street stores next month, while its online sales were up 60% from 2019, The Guardian reports.
Richard Hyman, a former director of the retail intelligence company Mintel, told the publication that there is an assumption that retail is an easy thing to get right, when in fact it is extremely complex, and Next are always on top of their game.
He points out: “It’s got so many moving parts – think of managing all the stock, the journey it takes from factories into your distribution warehouses, and then to be at the place where the demand is going to unfold. It’s a highly sophisticated process, and they’re extraordinarily good at it.”
As well as being competently run, the chain is genuinely liked by British consumers. To the bafflement of some, loyal customers camp out on the freezing streets overnight for early access to the Boxing Day sales, and even did so during the height of the pandemic at Christmas 2020.
Next have also moved with the times, and opened many larger stores at retail parks. This allows them to have sizable sections for women, men, children, and homeware, all under one roof. The products are of acceptable quality and value, with clothing ranges that appeal to all ages, and are on-trend while remaining very everyday and wearable.
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