It’s official: IKEA has bagged itself an iconic position on Oxford Street and marked the occasion with one of the most innovative, yet simple, brand hoardings you are likely to see: a 128 ft wide and 62 ft blue FRAKTA bag.
The store’s delayed opening - now set for Autumn 2024 - isn’t the “blow” that some commentators are describing, but in fact quite the opposite. Brands investing in Oxford Street are committing to showcasing themselves on the global stage and therefore need to get it right. That requires painstaking precision and for IKEA it means renovating the Grade II listed building with a laser focus on sustainability. Being willing to spend that extra time underlines the importance of looking good on Oxford Street.
IKEA will be in fantastic company when it opens next year, with a string of new additions in recent months further demonstrating a renewed confidence in the nation’s favourite high street. Global brands that have opened their doors include Carvella, Samsonite and Steve Madden.
There are more openings to come too, with Footasylum, Rituals, Kurt Geiger and HMV (which will replace the largest candy store on the street) all in the pipeline. Pandora and Reserved, who already have stores on the street, are doubling down on their investment by opening new stores at the east end of the street, which has benefited from the completion of recent developments and the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
Oxford Street remains a hotbed of innovation and investment; a place where brands make history and put their best foot forward. Take Under Armour’s new flagship store, for example, which features connected changing rooms enabling shoppers to engage with their clothes in new ways. Or Flannels, which has created an events space in its Oxford Street flagship store where shoppers can attend fashion shows, meet designers, and take part in other exclusive experiences.
The cyclical nature of real estate is characterised by redevelopment and renewal. The hoardings that you can see on Oxford Street all have a story behind them and are an essential part of its ongoing revitalisation. There are nine ambitious developments in the pipeline that make up more than a million square feet of mixed use space and, just a stone’s throw away, there are six new hotels in development. Proposed public realm enhancements that include wider footways, better seating, and more greenery will provide an attractive backdrop that will also improve visitor experience.
Change is already well underway. The hoardings on Oxford Street are a sign of important progress and are part of an ambitious, once-in-a-lifetime transformation. The future of the high street is secure – and it will happen first, as always, on Oxford Street.
Dee Corsi is CEO of New West End Company