Brown Thomas has begun talks with Hammerson on increasing the size of its BT2 store at the Dundrum Town shopping centre, after the UK property group took ownership of the centre last week in partnership with German institutional investor Allianz Real Estate.
In its announcement last Friday on its consensual agreement with Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land, which involved taking control of the Dundrum shopping centre, Hammerson said BT2, River Island and H&M had begun discussions on enlarging their stores.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Brown Thomas's managing director Stephen Sealey confirmed that it would like to increase its footprint in Dundrum.
“BT2 in Dundrum has been doing very, very well for us,” he said.
“If we could get more space, it would certainly be an attractive proposition. We have seen four years of very strong growth in the centre.”
BT2’s shop in Dundrum has 836sq m (9,000sq ft) of retail space. “It would be nice to double that,” Mr Sealey said, adding that the talks were at an “early stage”.
‘Click and collect’
He said the success of BT2 in Dundrum reflected both the decision to refine the offering of the brand to effectively become a mini Brown Thomas store, and, according to him, the “convenience” of the location compared with the city centre, where Luas works have disrupted access to shops for the past year or so.
Dundrum has also become a popular “click and collect” location for customers shopping online with Brown Thomas.
“We recognised a demand for a small-format Brown Thomas out there,” he said. “It saves some people a trip into town.”
Brown Thomas is also planning to bolster its online offering by relaunching its website in September following an investment of “just shy of €2 million”.
Online currently accounts for 2 to 3 per cent of Brown Thomas’s annual sales, but this rises to between 8 and 10 per cent for certain beauty brands.
The company plans to enhance the offering with more interactive features for users.
“It will be an even slicker mobile experience, which will be good,” Mr Sealey said.
“There will be more user-generated content, more videos and it will be generally more exciting.
Online is about more than just selling . . . it’s a complete marketing tool with a lot of people doing their research online and then buying in store. It’s a sharply growing part of our business.”
Mr Sealey said that for every purchase made online another four sales take place in store shortly afterwards by the same customers.
At its flagship Grafton Street store, Brown Thomas will shortly unveil a new fashion offering on the second floor following an €11 million refurbishment.
This has added 697sq m (7,500sq ft) of retail space to house brands that are in the BT2 store on the same street, which is due to shut in January.
“I’m very excited about that phase of the store’s refurbishment,” said Mr Sealey.
He described trading in the year to date as “okay” with Brexit impacting sales from UK visitors. “The footfall on Grafton Street is also down by 5 to 8 per cent each week, according to figures from Dublin Town,” he said.