“ A brand new store designed especially for women, offering fashion collections from Designers at Debenhams, UK. „
Well I have thought long and hard about how best to review Desire by Debenhams because I don't really know what I think of the shop. I suppose it is the 'by Debenhams' bit that spoils it, because it gives you high expectations. As a stand alone shop (if it was called something completely different) I would not dislike it as much as I do, but as it stands I really think it is the most pointless idea I have ever seen.
Basically it is like Debenhams sat with a plan of their usual shop and stuck pins in random concessions to decide what to stock in their Desire shops. It is pretty unclear exactly WHAT the shop does sell, as in the one local to us the concessions change all of the time.
They only sell women's clothes, and have never stocked menswear. This is confusing in itself as I know loads of people presumed (because it is Debenhams) that it would and went looking around for the menswear department only to find there was not one. Originally it did not stock childrenswear either but it now does, albeit a very small range. It also sells lingerie (again a very small range compared to the usual Debenhams range), bags, cosmetics and perfume. They also stock gift sets in the run up to Christmas.
There used to be a nail bar which was very useful if slightly pricey compared to other places in the area, but I found out yesterday that it has gone into administration (the company was New York City Nails) so that bit has now been taken out and hastily filled with a perfume display.
The problem is it sells BITS of everything. It has a range of premium cosmetics, but not them all. Ours has Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Dior, Benefit and Clinique counters but I am unsure whether different stores offer different selections. Now this is OK in theory but when you consider that the stores are in small town shopping centres it is a bit of a pain because where we live, prior to Desire opening we had to go to the city for anything fancier than Boots No7. So in a way it is an improvement, but only if you remember what they sell. Otherwise it means a wasted trip into town and the cost of an hour's parking only to discover the makeup brand you need is not stocked by Desire, and it is not like you can go elsewhere as there is nowhere else. So from this perspective it is a double edged sword. Is it better than nothing or is it just a frustration when you visit expecting to find what you are looking for and then you don't? For me it is useful though as I wear mainly Estee and Dior makeup so it saves me a trip to the city if I run out unexpectedly.
It has a small Faith shoes concession and a few bits from a few of the Designers at Debenhams range including Red Herring, J by Jasper Conran, and Pineapple.The selection is not wide and they change the designers so that you cannot guarantee which ones will be stocked each time you visit. Very irritating.
The shop itself is very understaffed. For example, the cosmetics counters are not individually staffed but (ridiculously) the staff specialise, so for example there may be an Estee Lauder and a Clinique lady working on a Thursday teatime. Great if you want Estee Lauder or Clinique but they cannot find their way around the other counters and do not have any knowledge of the products so often you cannot actually get served with what you want. I find this utterly stupid in all honesty.
Another gripe I have is with the cafe. It is situated on the first floor and overlooks some of the ground floor. It is well laid out and offers a great menu choice as far as cafes go. Except I have honestly never been able to get what I have asked for (off the menu). They do not serve half of it and the standard response after requesting something you have chosen from the board (unless if is tea or coffee) seems to be 'Oh we don't have that on today, sorry'.
The good thing about Desire by Debenhams is that they have excellent tiolet and baby change facilities which are kept lovely and clean (although they play very loud chart music in the baby change room which I do find a bit odd).
It is also the only shop in the town to offer a bra fitting service (for free) although I can't say anything else about this as I have never tried it.
It annoys me that you cannot return items bought in Desire to other Debenhams shops or vice versa, even if they sell the same product and you have your receipt.
I guess the overall rating of Desire by Debenhams depend on what you compare it to. Compared to a proper department store such as Debenhams it is utterly rubbish and it seems a ridiculous, ill-thought out idea to open a chain of stores that sell little bits of everything but a decent range of nothing. But in other ways it is better than nothing - without Desire there would be nowhere in my town to buy premium brand cosmetics, nor would there be a decent shoe shop without the Faith concession.
However being better than nothing does not make it a good shop and therefore I have rated it 2* - pretty pointless in all honesty.
Our town recently got a makeover. They knocked down our admittedly old fashioned Beales department store and built a sparkly new shopping centre with identical shops to every other town close by. However, replacing Beales was a new spin off Debenhams store called Desire by Debenhams.
It is a good store and has added a welcome new choice of womens and childrens wear that is affordable, however this is all it offers. No longer do we have a department store which has men's and home departments.
The store itself is well laid out. The women's section is grouped by designer, all the main designers by Debenhams are there- Mark Williamson, Betty Jackson and Red Herring. The cosmetic and perfume section again grouped by brand and very overstaffed with many over helpful and over made up ladies.
Upstairs is the core Debenhams ladies range, lingerie and kids clothing. It is an easily shoppable store and the product is good quality. I love Debenhams for providing 'designer' goods at small prices.
The staff are helpful and the place is smart, clean and well merchandised. As a stand alone store I can't really fault it. What I can fault is the expectation you get by seeing Debenhams on the front of the shop. Really they are just another ladies clothes store disguised as a department store and I think ultimately, a regular Debenhams store would have served our town's needs better.