By Rhea Cartwright
n the wake of the pandemic, during which non-essential bricks and mortar retail had close, the race is on for luxury department stores to lure customers back inside. While e-commerce may deliver on convenience, accessibility and more SKUs, there is truly nothing like the sensorial delight of stepping over the threshold into a welcoming luxury department store.
Retail is no longer just a place to purchase. As all the major players are investing heavily in experience, the hotly anticipated Flannels Liverpool flagship is pioneering elevation within UK retail. Sprawled over seven floors and 120,000 square feet, Flannels are committed to taking traditional retail to the next level.
Having introduced Flannels Beauty in 2021, the ground floor beauty hall is a true epicentre of fun and discovery. Among the usual suspects of MAC, Chanel and Jo Malone, expect to also find an Hermès Beauty counter (of which there are only 9 globally), Dior Maison and Pat Macgrath Labs, making their debut in retail outside of their London flagship.
The Beauty Bar sits centre stage and is an immersive space for brands to interact with shoppers through makeup masterclasses and appointments. Available to brands for monthly takeovers, Kylie Cosmetics takes the reigns for launch with a hotly anticipated lineup for the rest of the year. If you prefer a more intimate beauty browsing experience, the beauty changing rooms, first unveiled in their Sheffield Meadowhall outpost is back. Behind the veiled curtain, you can swatch, blend and contour in private, press a button for champagne and take a selfie in the virtual mirror equipped with a wind machine so you can snap your perfect shot.
Recent data has shown Liverpool leading the market for prestige beauty sales and the region is known for having a glamorous appetite for beauty which Flannels are betting on satiating. “This is a milestone moment for our business,” says Sophie Blackledge, FLANNELS’ Head of Beauty. The scale, service proposition and brand offering to be discovered at Flannels Liverpool is truly in a league of its own…The ultimate one-stop beauty destination has arrived!”
"The scale, service proposition and brand offering to be discovered at FLANNELS Liverpool is truly in a league of its own."
The beauty offering isn’t restricted to the ground floor. In another global retail exclusive, award-winning cosmetic practitioner Dr Tijion Esho has his own clinic on the fifth floor. Boosting everything from botox to hydration-boosting facials, shoppers can recline post-treatment in the champagne recovery room. The notable partnership also feels like a remarkable moment in visibility, given Dr Esho’s Nigerian heritage. The presence of a Black doctor’s clinic, particularly with a retail partner outside of London is a defining moment for the future of diversity and representation within the beauty industry.
Boasting an impressive range of luxury and contemporary fashion, they have also introduced a bespoke tailoring service and an elevated click-and-collect experience, where customers can either browse or have a styling season while they wait. If the weight of heavy shopping bags wasn’t enough of a workout, the store is home to Barry’s Bootcamp, which is the first time the much-loved global fitness brand has partnered with a retailer.
The three soon-to-be-revealed restaurants on the top floor have been meticulously developed for the store, rather than partnering with existing restaurant groups. “We will own the entire end-to-end customer experience,” comments Flannels' Managing Director of Premium and Luxury at Frasers Group, David Epstein. “By having a central system, our waiting staff will see their diner's birthdays and purchase history to make bespoke in-store suggestions. We want to ensure that when consumers visit, they experience the full extent of Flannels hospitality.”
The regional-first approach is clearly working. From the merchandising to branded activations, they have a very clear understanding of the consumer behaviour of the locations they’re dominating. With Liverpool being Flannels' biggest investment yet, they have not only created a retail and leisure mecca, but also a cultural landmark. The retail staff are brimming with pride, consumers have eagerly been waiting to get inside and for the brand that aims to bring “luxury to everyone”, it truly feels like they are making all of the right moves.
Flannels Liverpool is putting luxury back on the regional map.
By Rhea Cartwright
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