House of Fraser game-changer 'green' store opens
House of Fraser has opened one of its most important stores yet with a debut that ticks several trend boxes in one go. For a start, it’s the firm’s first-ever location in an out-of-town retail/leisure complex and with out-of-town retail sites having seen the most buoyant footfall in the UK in recent periods, that bodes well for the future.
But importantly, it’s also the chain’s first store with sustainability at its core with the Rushden lakes centre, which only opened last month, being as much about wildlife and nature-based leisure activities as it is about shopping.
The store, near Rushden in Northamptonshire, cost £12 million to build and features a living wall of over 2,000 indoor plants, a bird art installation designed by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) award winning artist Cecilia Smith, and has generally been designed to blend in with the undeniably impressive environment.
The new store is the first new House of Fraser branch in almost nine years and, in line with the general move towards offering more upscale and casual dining experiences inside department stores, it features a champagne bar and a Café Nero.
Its extensive brand offer includes 17 womenswear, 20 fashion accessories, 20 menswear, 17 beauty and 10 kidswear labels. The women’s and menswear offer includes Issa, Biba, Whistles, Coast, French Connection, Mint Velvet, Tommy Hilfiger, Joules, Diesel, Levi’s, Polo Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Label Lab and Tommy Hilfiger.
Beauty brands include MAC, Chanel, Urban Decay, Nars, Dior and Bobbi Brown, as well as the new ‘Beauty Spotlight’ brands concept, which is designed to showcase innovative and groundbreaking products.
The House of Fraser opening comes come just under a month after Rushden Lakes opened its doors following a £140 million development. But while the department store is late to the party, its debut is ahead of the big marketing push that’s being put behind the centre. A big launch weekend is planned for late next month as the store gear up for the forthcoming Christmas shopping season.
The shopping centre is a particularly interesting one given that analysts says the mix of retail with leisure is key for getting shoppers into physical stores and away from their screens. Its leisure activities currently include canoeing, cycling, walking and bird watching
Situated at the gateway to the Nene Wetlands, its 230,00 sq ft of retail is adjacent to a series of lakes and is set in over 200 acres of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) reserve, operated in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts.
Owned by The Crown Estate, it is also a designated RAMSAR site (the international convention on the use and protection of environmentally important wetlands) and is comparable in its importance to the Camargue in France, or the Zambezi Delta.
The Crown estate is continuing to develop the site with phase two in early 2019 set to add to its leisure offer with a new 14-screen multiplex Cinema from Cineworld, a host of additional restaurants and a further range of leisure activities – such as indoor trampolining, adventure golf and indoor climbing. There will also be a phase three, although full details of that aren’t yet available.
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