You printed my letter in The Star on October 4, 2018, regarding my observations of my poor Sheffield city centre retail experience, particularly with Debenhams. Well, I don’t know if I can take credit for it or not, but Debenhams, (at least at Meadowhall), has been transformed.
The whole store seems to have been updated and improved, the Debenham’s Kitchen is totally re-furbished, (see photo). The staff are much more attentive and customer-focused, and the tables are immediately cleared and cleaned. The paper serviettes are of good quality. The payment counters also seem much more helpful, and they do seem to be adhering to their “Here to help” logo. Overall, a transformed shopping experience compared to our dire experiences in the city centre in October.
Today I’ve gone back to the Sheffield city centre branch of Debenham’s, to see if they have also had the benefit of the improvement.
Yes and no. Perhaps because this visit was at lunchtime, the café was quite full and well staffed. The food was good, and the tables were cleared. However, the paper serviettes were still of the ‘pieces of toilet paper’ variety, and the shop looks very tired and run down compared to the Meadowhall branch.
There could be many reasons for this variation. Perhaps Debenhams refurbishment programme hasn’t yet got round to the Sheffield city centre branch, perhaps the branch managers are variable in their capabilities, or perhaps Debenhams believe that the city centre store is appropriate for its customer demographics.
With all the doom and gloom in the city centre retail world, it just goes to show that the retailers themselves have got to take some of the responsibility for their success or failure.