New Days for Department Stores?

Days - newly launched department store concept

Days is a newly launched department store concept by Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Designed to house a number of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) brands, Days is aiming to revitalise the UK high street and reverse the trend that has seen the demise of department store operators such as BHS.

We‘ve all heard of new store concepts being launched, and new retailers being established because of a gap in the market, but launching a new department store is something of a rarity.  Not least because of the amount of space a department store commands, but also the strength of its brand offering in order to entice customers in store. Days seems to have this covered; being part of the large Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, the department store will stock a range of brands from within the wider group – recently rescued Jaeger, Peacocks (rescued in 2012), Jane Norman (rescued in 2011), and Austin Reed (rescued in 2016) to name a few. And as for the space issue; the demise of BHS has left a large number of vacant properties of a size that Days would comfortably fit.

It has been said that department stores no longer fit with the ever-changing dynamic of the high street; that with the ever increasing popularity of online shopping, they just don’t have a place on the high street anymore. However, it has been well documented that physical shops are still a requirement of the everyday shopper, and that key holiday periods drive up sales growth. Physical shops are also adapting to the online model in order to complement and co-exist alongside each other, to be mutually beneficial. 

With Days having made its debut in a former BHS space in Carmarthen, and its second earmarked to open in Bedford in November, Philip Day – the eponymous founder of EWM and who the new chain has been named after – has outlined ambitious plans to expand Days to a chain of 50 department stores across the UK.

Whether it becomes a hit with consumers and fills the gap left by BHS remains to be seen.  Its selection of brands attracts a range of shopper profiles that won’t necessarily shop across the whole store – will this frighten some away, or create a wide appeal?  Either way, a new department store concept on the scene is certainly a breath of fresh air and at Pragma we look forward to tracking its impact on cities and towns..