LONDON — Undaunted by three lockdowns in the U.K. and a major disruption to brick-and-mortar sales, Harrods is pressing ahead with the opening of its second H Beauty unit this week, in Buckinghamshire, England.
The H Beauty will open on Thursday in Milton Keynes, about 50 miles northwest of London, and will be larger than the first store, which opened in September at the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, just outside London.
The store spans 29,000 square feet and will offer products and services from more than 90 beauty brands.
Annalise Fard, director of beauty at Harrods, said the store will carry exclusive products, including a brand called Naturally Tribal Skincare, which originated in Milton Keynes and is made in the area.
The space will also carry the hair care brand Aquis and L’Artisan Parfumeur personal and home fragrances.
“The core and the concept of the H Beauty stores remains the same. H Beauty is a beauty wonderland with expertise at its core, it wants to be inclusive and to help people look and feel better,” said Fard.
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Like its Lakeside sister store, the unit will offer a comprehensive click-and-collect service. Customers can order any type of product at Harrods.com and have it delivered to H Beauty, and even try it on in a changing room.
As reported, Harrods launched the stand-alone H Beauty concept on the back of the refurbishment of its beauty halls at the Knightsbridge flagship. The aim, according to Fard, is to bring products and services “to an incredibly responsive community of existing beauty lovers.”
Fard said Harrods made some interesting observations following the refurbishment of its beauty halls in Knightsbridge in 2019 and early 2020. “The level of engagement with beauty went to another level,” she said, adding that younger audiences — and men — have been particularly enthusiastic shoppers.
“It really led us to think, ‘Why not speak to a wider audience with the credible and authoritative voice that we have?’ We knew we were in a unique and privileged position” to make that move, she said in a previous interview.
Harrods said both H Beauty stores have been developed with the local beauty community in mind.
The stores have playground tables and magic mirrors that allow clients to experiment with fragrance and cosmetics. There will also be demonstrations and consultations as well as a skin care station for facials.
The Milton Keynes store, which was set to open in March, and was delayed by a few weeks due to lockdown, also features dedicated boutiques by Gucci Beauty, Dolce & Gabbana and eyewear brand David Clulow.
On May 17, when indoor dining is set to open again in the U.K., H Beauty will open its Champagne Bar, a 44-seat social space with a patisserie and cocktail menu created by the Harrods food and beverage team.
Fard said that H Beauty in Lakeside, Essex has been performing well despite the various lockdowns (it’s been open for a total of 10 weeks) with clients taking advantage of all the services despite social distancing rules.
She added that Harrods is so confident about the concept there are more H Beauty stores in the pipeline, although she did not confirm locations or timing.
Both spaces were designed by Virgile + Partners with an eye to being “playful, accessible and interactive.”
Virgile + Partners, which specializes in retail, hotel and restaurant interiors, has long been a go-to design firm for Harrods and Harvey Nichols as well as for retailers such as Burberry, John Lewis, and Space NK.
Carlos Virgile, director at Virgile + Partners, said the interiors are meant to foster H Beauty’s dual spirit of “elegance and casual quirkiness.”
“Throughout the space, customers will feel the modernity of the H beauty concept transpire,” he said.
“From simple concrete washed walls to the terrazzo tiled flooring in the central space with chips in light blush and gray, there is a peaceful ambience as well as a space for self-expression and experimentation.”
H Beauty was just one of the new stand-alone concepts that Harrods launched last year. As reported, the retailer opened the doors to its first outlet store at Westfield London.
Located in the former Debenhams space at Westfield, the Harrods Outlet spans 80,000 square feet over two floors. Conceived and built in five weeks, it was designed with social distancing in mind.
The space is brightly lit, spare, easy to clean and with simple display units that are spaced far apart. Some 120,000 product units from 100 fashion and accessories brands are stocked in the space.