who will be the next BHS?

With the news that BHS is set to close it’s final store on 20th August,  I’ve been wondering who will be the next BHS – a  business that dies because everyone knows their name, but no-one actually buys anything from them anymore.

bhsfaciaclosing

yep, this London branch was trading with signage from two rebrands ago

I get the feeling that Marks & Spencer are a lot closer to fitting that category than you’d think. I can see a future where M&S Simply Food and M&S Foodhall are the only trading facias of the business – in their last set of annual results in April, Food was up 3% while Clothing and Homewares was down 2.2%. In the three months since then,like-for-like Clothing and Homewares sales dropped a massive 8.3% (source).

What does M&S stand for? What does it believe in? Who is it’s core customer? Why do they shop there? If I asked you about ASOS, H&M or even Debenhams I’m pretty sure you’d be able to have a stab at answering, but for M&S it’s a toughie. And without a clear idea of what unmet need they meet and who they’re aiming at, how are shoppers supposed to know whether they should pop in or not? Add in deep discounting and (IMHO) a general slide towards dodgy quality and even dodgier design in clothing and you haven’t really got a compelling consumer proposition.

And although Currys benefited massively from the demise of Comet, I can’t see much of an offline future for them as their customer service and instore experience is so dire that it outweighs the benefits of shopping in person. I’ve been in my local Currys four times in the last year and thrice came out empty handed and bought online instead – missing price and product information, an unmanned till desk, no-one on the shop floor to help you, terrible staff attitude, frequent out of stocks etc. rather cancels out the ‘touch, feel, take it home today’ benefit of bricks and mortar retail. Or perhaps I just happen to live near a really, really badly run store?

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