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‘The department store is not dead’ – New Jarrold boss on how the Norfolk retailer will face the future

PUBLISHED: 16:42 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 15 September 2018

Minnie Moll of Jarrold. Picture: Keiron Tovell.

Minnie Moll of Jarrold. Picture: Keiron Tovell.

Archant

The new boss of Jarrold Retail has insisted “the department store is not dead” as she laid out how the Norfolk retailer can adapt and evolve under her leadership.

Minnie Moll believes traditional stores must embrace a model based around experiences to be relevant in the changing high street – and said Jarrold had already shown that such a makeover was possible.

Ms Moll took over as chief executive at the start of August, leaving her position as joint chief executive of the East of England Co-op to succeed Peter Mitchell at a family company which can trace its roots in Norfolk back to 1770.

And though she says she will take the first 100 days of her tenure to get a feel for Jarrold before setting her own course, she said she had been heartened from early discussions with staff.

“I’m really impressed and I’m so pleased to be coming into a business that’s well on its way to being a really experiential Jarrold. Building upon that is going to be the way forward,” she said.

Though 2018 has been a tough year for the high street, with the speculation surrounding Debenhams in recent days following on from the failure of House of Fraser and store closures at M&S, Ms Moll is upbeat.

“I don’t think the department store is dead,” she said. “With the Beast from the East and then the summer heatwave, it’s clearly not been an ideal time for the high street.

“But the things we’ve invested in over the past year have driven us towards being a more experiential destination.”

Last year Jarrold opened its downstairs deli and its success – its sales for the third week of August were equal to Christmas week last year – has led to the opening of a pizza restaurant, The Exchange, in the basement.

Meanwhile, Pilch Sports has been rebranded Jarrold Intersport and The Granary, Jarrold’s furniture outlet, recorded its best ever week of sales in August, said Ms Moll.

One crucial edge the company has on larger competitors is that it owns its premises, meaning it is not weighed down by rents.

“We feel in a good position in terms of the investment we’ve made,” said Ms Moll. “We can be a relative speedboat to the tankers of the larger groups. But it also comes back to culture, and listening to colleagues who are at the sharp end. You can invest in anything you like but if you don’t have fantastic customer service, it doesn’t mean anything.”

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