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Brief Published: 9 Jul 2019

Boots Overhauls Health & Beauty Retail via Beta Flagship

Boots Covent Garden

British health, beauty and pharmacy retailer Boots has revealed its latest asset on a journey to redefine itself as a modern innovator: a beta-style flagship in London with ‘Studios’ dedicated to open-source (staff-meets-consumer) learning, a brand takeover window and red-hot CBD products.

The 28,500 sq ft destination, designed by British agency Dalziel & Pow, is located in Covent Garden – London’s reigning beauty capital – and is the beacon venue for its brand-wide overhaul. Battling stiff competition from online beauty/wellness specialists, Boots’ chief executive Sebastian James explained it will serve as a test bed for initiatives potentially applicable to the rest of its 2,500 stores.

At the core of the revamp is a beauty hall boasting around 300 brands, with a follow-up Instagram zone for capturing post-makeover selfies. Adding depth of understanding to the volume of product it also has ‘Studios’ for different topics (beauty, wellness, etc.), where both customers and staff can convene in learning. Revealing a shift towards more open-source thinking, Boots said it has no issue with customers capturing and sharing the sessions. See also Olfactory Academies in Selling Scent.

Other features include a water tap where customers can fill bottles for free, multiple CBD product ranges (see Commercialising Cannabis) and a Beauty Live window for brand takeovers.  

Boots also has the medi-retail sector firmly in its sights. Speaking at the Retail Week Live conference this year, James revealed Boots’ plan to leverage its innovation-rich heritage to become a primary healthcare provider. It will create walk-in clinics for urinary tract infections in 37 UK stores “at a tenth of the cost to hospitals, where almost nobody will have to wait”. It also intends to assist with mental health, weight management and exercise/training.

See also Beauty Flagships, Brand Spaces: 10 Trends & Opportunities for 2019/20 and Debenhams Launches New Omnichannel Beauty Initiatives.