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John Ryan

Make the Most of What You Already Have

Boots Beauty debuts at Battersea Power Station in London

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BIG RETAILERS TEND to be taken for granted for serving a particular market or cohort. Occasionally, however, the biggest brands do something that surprises – this is the case with the newly launched Boots Beauty store in London’s Battersea Power Station.

For those who don’t know, Boots falls under the same corporate umbrella as Walgreens, and like Walgreens, it is a purveyor of health, beauty and pharmaceutical products for the mass market. Though its beauty vertical has always been important, the U.K. public largely identifies Boots as a chemist first – a place where prescription and non-prescription drugs can be obtained.

For this reason, a standalone Boots Beauty is both an oddity and something of a natural progression from what “Boots the Chemist” has been doing for years; it’s about foregrounding one element of its offer. There is also the matter of this being a retailer with a place in the hearts and minds of the U.K. public and if a spin-off, like the one now on offer in Battersea, will benefit from the same affection and understanding.

The store itself is one of mirrors, screens and digital beauty remedies where those who seek such things can have anything from scalp to skin analyzed and digitized. Then, based on the results, the most appropriate potion or lotion is suggested. Sephora, of course, has been doing this for a while now, but if, say, Macy’s were to do something similar, the results might be comparable to what is likely to happen in the U.K. as shoppers this side of the pond get their heads round the idea of Boots as a standalone beauty store.

And there’s the point. At a moment when many multi-category retailers are wondering what to do next, take a look at what you already do. The answer may be right in front of you.

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John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.

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