UK Retailer Debenhams Gets Back Into Bricks And Mortar With LED-Filled Beauty Store

July 18, 2022 by Dave Haynes

U.K. department store operator Debenhams, having closed all its stores after more than 200 years on high streets, re-entered bricks and mortar retailing with a digital-filled concept store in Manchester late last year.

Called Debenhams Beauty, the store covers two floors in a Manchester shopping mall – using LED displays on bulkheads and above fixtures to promote products.

Debenhams engaged London-based solutions provider Inurface Media to scheme in and deploy a series of displays, working with Bauer Digital (also London) using partner Lighthouse’s LED products.

Says Inurface:

After closing all of their physical stores earlier in 2021, and moving solely online, Debenhams, now owned by The Boohoo Group, are back and better than ever. In the start of December, Debenhams opened a flagship beauty store in Manchester’s Arndale. The store specializes in cosmetics, fragrance and skincare products and is set across 2 floors covering a total of 7,552sq. ft.

When planning out the store, The Boohoo Group were exploring ways they could create a sleek, modern look that incorporated dazzling signage and interactive technology. After working with Boohoo last year on their corporate spaces in London and Manchester, The Boohoo Group enlisted us again to work on this upcoming project.

Taking initiative from the AV Award winning corporate spaces we designed for Boohoo, we installed a series of screens throughout the store to provide a fully digital environment. A large-scale bulkhead was installed above the doors as an advertising space for all brands within the store as well as Debenhams itself. The bulkhead is 2.6 pixel pitch with non-high-bright LED due to its location. 

We also installed a series of palladium screens running down both sides of the store above the concession stands. The screens were designed for individual brands to advertise above their stands to promote their latest products and campaigns. The screens are 2.8mm X 2.2mm with a 1.9 pixel pitch. Towards the back of the store we installed a selection of curved LED screens also for individual brands to advertise on with a 1.9 pixel pitch.

The bulkhead, in particular, is a good example of how LED displays can be designed to fit the dimensions of a designed space, and I also like how it can be seen from outside on the mall concourse.

Our partner brand Xi also lent a hand on this project, by helping the brand establish its interactive digital presence with a social wall installed towards the front of the store. The social wall helps connect actual customers with the brand by making them the heart of the store. By simply snapping a picture and uploading it to social media with the #debenhamsbeauty the content is then shared to the social wall.

It’s been a while since I have seen a social media wall activated in a retail space. This one is calling hashtag’d posts from Instagram, and I assume/pray there are moderation filters in place and some sort of approval system, as a couple of madly-giggling 13-year-old boys could make that “experience” go very wrong.

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