Hundreds of shoppers queued to be one of the first to glimpse the 86,000sq ft three-storey branch, which was officially opened by celebrity designer Julien Macdonald OBE alongside Watford local Megan Bowyer.
Debenhams is the first of 13 retailers to open within a £80 million 400,000sq ft extension of intu Watford, which expands the shopping centre into a 1.4 millionsq ft retail and leisure destination.
The department store group describes its new shop, which is the vision of chief executive officer Sergio Bucher, as ‘modern and easy to navigate, placing shoppers at the forefront by providing an engaging space to shop, dine and relax’.
Housing a mix of designer, own-label and international branded home and fashion ranges – alongside food establishments including in-house offer Loaf & Bloom and Costa Coffee – Watford is the first Debenhams in the country to feature the chain’s new redesigned beauty hall.
The area occupies 15% of the store and is an interactive space where customers can browse, discover and experiment with products from established beauty houses and breakthrough companies. It offers flexible zoned areas such as the Hair Lab, Mini Bar and the Beauty Club House.
The Watford store design builds on the successes of Debenhams’ Stevenage store which opened last August with a reduced product offering, flexible fixturing grouped by fashion genre, and services including free bra fit service, free personal shopping service, travel money and free WiFi.
Sergio said: “Our new Watford store reflects the changes that we are implementing as part of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy. Product enhancements sit alongside a store design that is easier to navigate and cheaper to operate.
“With our Beauty Hall of the Future, we are responding to the way that customers say that they want to shop, as well as offering a compelling food offer and choice of beauty treatments, to offer a destination where shopping can be enjoyed with friends and family.”
Debenhams trades out of around 250 stores across 25 countries and is available online in more than 60 countries. It has been investing in design for over 20 years through its exclusive Designers at Debenhams portfolio of brands. Current designers include Richard Quinn, Abigail Ahern, Jasper Conran, Sadie Frost and Jemima French, Patrick Grant, Henry Holland, Julien Macdonald, Savannah Miller, Jenny Packham, Aliza Reger, John Rocha, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi and Matthew Williamson.