Beaverbrooks has closed its store in Westfield White City, London’s biggest shopping centre, after struggling for years to make it work.
It leaves the 70-store national chain with just two stores inside the M25, one in Westfield Stratford adjacent to the Olympic Park in East London, and the other in Croydon to the South of the capital.
“Sadly we are closing one of our stores in Westfield White City [West London]. We only have two weeks left of a closing down sale,” Beaverbrooks chairman Mark Adlestone told WatchPro in an interview ahead of the closure.
“Our rates have pretty much doubled and the bottom line is that we cannot take enough money. Maybe the demographic isn’t right for us. We have tried for 10 years and just cannot make it work. There is not the footfall to service the level of retail there,” he added.
Shuttering the Westfield White City store did not dent the latest financial year for Beaverbrooks, which show sales of around £129 million in the year ended March 3, 2019, up from £126.5 million in 2018. Operating profit dipped from £13 million to 12.5 million.
“There are a couple of reasons for that [operating profit dip]: first, the prior year was 53 weeks, secondly we have invested a lot of money in new areas of the business. Overall, we are very happy,” Mr Adlestone says.
Investment in bricks and mortar is continuing for Beaverbrooks. The group is adding Omega boutiques to multibrand stores in Westfield Stratford and Metro Centre in Gatesheard this year. It will also open a brand new store in Rushden Lakes, Northamptonshire, this year, according to managing director Anna Blackburn.
Mid-market rivals Goldsmiths and Ernest Jones are continuing to reduce the number of stores in the UK networks, but Beaverbrooks expects the group to still have around 70 stores in a year’s time and works hard with landlords to keep stores open.
“We work really hard with landlords, and if we find ourselves in a negative situation, particularly at the end of a lease, we will work to adjust things. In many cases, landlords do reduce rents for us. But in the case of Westfield White City, even if they had reduced our rents, it was not a sustainable store. Rents were just too high,” Mr Adlestone states.