Oxford Street fights to win back shoppers

The world's most famous shopping street is trying to repair its increasingly tatty image, writes Melanie Rickey

OXFORD Street is to get a face-lift to lure back customers who have deserted it in recent years and decided to shop in out-of-town shopping centres instead.

The premier shopping street of London's West End is to undergo cosmetic surgery from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road in an attempt to attract shoppers away from the weatherproof glitzy malls of centres such as Lakeside in Thurrock and Brent Cross.

Among the most significant changes are the opening of a Marks & Spencer's shop dedicated entirely to menswear and a new four-floor department store run by the American operator Borders selling books and records.

Sally Collinson, director of the Oxford Street Association admits that the neighbourhood has suffered from a large number of "sell it cheap" stores dominating the eastern end between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, and has consequently lost shoppers.

"Well, it's stuff you can buy in market stalls isn't it?" she said. "The pile 'em high shops are really giving the east of the street a bad name, and fewer people are shopping there. Most of our shoppers go straight to Selfridges and the big M&S, or they go to the out of town places, like Lakeside."

Next year when the Blue Water park shopping complex opens across the Thames from Lakeside, competition for customers will be even fiercer. The smaller retailers in Oxford Street will be depending on the big players such as Marks & Spencer to keep the shoppers going to the West End.

The biggest Top Shop in the country is also to open in Oxford Street complete with regular fashion shows from respected young British designers including Hussein Chalayan and Sherald Lamden from street label Seraph.

Westminster Council, well aware of the importance of Oxford Street to the fortunes of the West End, has given permission for a listed building nearby to be gutted to provide two big stores.

"Westminster Council officers are not happy about it," said Miss Collinson, "but they have been over ruled by a planning committee eager to see the street return to its former glory."

Even better for the street, and for fashion consumers is the spring 1999 opening of NikeTown. There are already eight NikeTowns in America, where they are seen as tourist attractions in their own right. It will be spread over two of Top Shop's four floors and its main entrance will be next to the Underground exit, giving it one of the most sought-after shopping locations,It is expecting up to one million customers a year.

Away from the main drag of Oxford Street, however, along the more exclusive environs of Bond Street things are even less buoyant. Concern is growing among retailers that millionaire businesswoman Christina Ong could pull the plug on the whole street if she decides to pull out from her high fashion franchises, including Donna Karan, and Armani, in response to trouble in Asia where she and her husband made their first fortunes.

One Bond Street insider, who has a clear view of the street from his office, says that shoppers are deserting Bond Street as well as Oxford Street.

"Not only do all the clothes look the same, but Calvin Klein and Donna Karan are always empty, the Guess store is always on sale, and the Tommy Hilfiger site which cost pounds 10m to develop is sitting empty."

A walk down Bond Street on Friday revealed that Guess has a 50 per cent off sale, Louis Vuitton is empty, Calvin Klein's staff had so few customers that they were taking cigarette breaks on the pavement and Donna Karan and Chanel were empty.

Things may not be good for the shops, but it bodes well for shoppers waiting for the summer sales.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little