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In the week that Superdrug announced plans to put a store on every high street, how critical will design now be to the fate of Britain’s retailers? What in particular can we do?

Superdrug’s plans for more – and bigger – stores are brave, given Boots the Chemists’ experience. To avoid the same humiliation, bold design will be vital – creating products that can’t be bought from the supermarket and experiences that can’t be matched on the Internet.

Meg Abdy, Partner, The Chambers (pictured left)

How many more Superdrugs does the world need? Retailers are failing to encourage differentiation. Look at the preponderance of white boxes in the high street fashion sector. Designers have to persuade, cajole and bully their clients into daring to be different.

Callum Lumsden, Managing director, Lumsden Design Partnership

Retail and design seem synonymous these days. Superdrug is a great example with pragmatic pricing and colourful packaging. Their job ads ask, ‘Do you want to help people look good and feel great without spending a fortune?’ Who wouldn’t go into a store like that?

Steve Collis, Managing director, JHP Design

Consumers are looking for distinct experiences as the high street becomes repetitive. Predicting how, when, where and if consumers will spend their money is harder to establish. Supermarkets have become a default choice for many shoppers and, in response, the role of retail will need a step change by design. Redefining the traditional is the least we can do.

Tim Greenhalgh, Managing creative director, Fitch (pictured right)

Design will always be a determining factor in the performance of retailers, but, until now, it has not recognised its value in terms of differentiation, positioning and customer response. With the emphasis on cutting prices, forced by supermarkets increasing competition in the health and beauty market, the biggest mistake high street retailers can make is to fight back using similar tools. Investment in their future business development should be based on building up their response, integrating clever – but simple and practical – design, expert advice and better personal service as part of the communication of real value.

Carlos Virgile, Joint managing director, Virgile and Stone

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