When M&S at Clapham Junction closed for renovations for several months, it was clear this was going to be more than a wash and brush up. After it closed, sounds of drilling and demolition behind the hoardings confirmed that this was more than a coat of paint: major works were underway.
And what a change it made! It’s been open a good few weeks now, and it’s hard to recognise the place. This is only the second store in the country to have this makeover, and the feedback we’ve had to date suggests that it’s definitely impressed.
The in-store farm, growing herbs guaranteed to be fresh (with a similar model to the underground farm that’s in an abandoned tube station in Clapham) probably got the most attention – but the wine tasting dispenser, and the coffee machines that let you try before you buy, are also a new approach.
M&S Simply Food outlets, offering a small selection of food-to-go, are everywhere. But only a dozen or so stores in the UK currently offer M&S’s full food range – and the company is determined to change this, by removing clothing from mid-sized stores to make way for a proper display of the food offering. So there’s an extensive stock of frozen produce, as well as a small range of everyday household goods. Greeting cards and flowers also get a large and elegant space near the front of the store.
The opening week saw many of M&S’s management team in the store, keeping an eye on how it was going (as well as an in-store DJ).The enthusiasm of the staff stood out – as did the number of people in to have a look at the changes (including, we understand, several competitors coming to investigate their new rival!). It was also hard to miss the M&S green tote bags that were given to everyone.
Unsurprisingly, the store also has a pretty comprehensive range of the firm’s trademark Percy Pig sweets…
There’a free water dispenser, as well as a coffee-to-go kiosk.The main aim of this project was to display the whole of the food range in an environment that showed it to its real potential, and M&S definitely seem to have achieved this. The limited clothing selection has gone but as with the previous version of this store, there’s a click & collect desk where the full clothing range can be delivered.
Finally we’ve been pleased to see that the exterior has also had some work done to it – and that the designers have carefully worked with the architecture of the original storefront, restoring it to its former glory with some modern touches.The store makes a much better impact on the street.
All in all, this is a step change for M&S and looks set to give Waitrose a few doors down the road some strong competition.
As we said back when the store closed – with M&S closing down stores in neighbouring areas, it’s very encouraging that they have made this huge investment – and vote of confidence – in Clapham Junction.
Author: David Curran