DEBENHAMS has been praised for a rebranding and marketing campaign which celebrates the pleasures of going shopping.

The initiative signals a change of direction for the department store chain, which has issued three profits warnings this year and is proposing to lay off staff.

A new logo and branding have been launched online and will feature in store displays, with new fascias due to roll out to shops.

The campaign, dubbed Debenhams Redesigned, urges consumers to rediscover the joy of shopping.

Richard Cristofoli, Debenhams’ managing director of beauty and marketing, told Marketing Week: “Those that love shopping were being made to feel a bit guilty about it, like life should only be about life experiences not shopping experiences and that at worst shopping was becoming trivialised or seen as a solitary occupation.One of the great phrases we heard from customers was that ‘shopping used to be this great moment in my life and now it’s become a bit of a relationship with my post room’.”

Debenhams is one of Bournemouth’s three big department stores, with the future of the town’s House of Fraser already in doubt after the business was bought out of administration.

Paul Kinvig, chief operating officer for Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), said: “It’s interesting that a high street retailer with the longevity of Debenhams is keen to now speak the language that all the rest of us involved in the town have been talking for four or five years, which is that it’s not just about shopping, it’s about experience.

“They’ve got to be applauded for that. They’ve kind of come to the party a bit late but let’s not be churlish.

“If you’re going to pitch yourself as offering everything under one roof, then it has to be a pleasant experience that’s more than just going in and buying an item and coming out – otherwise what’s the reason to get off your sofa?“It’s a tough road to walk down and we should applaud them for it but it’s not going to be easy for them because they have to tangentially shift some of the perception of what a Debenhams store is.”

He pointed out that the town’s Beales store had already been seeking to improve the shopping experience, with innovations including a Prosecco bar.

Marcus Wincott, marketing manager with Bournemouth e-commerce agency Media Lounge, said: “I’m intrigued to see how this rebrand is received by the public and what the rollout looks like in the coming months and years after the initial social media launch and communication strategy.

“The focus on shopping as an emotive experience rather than a simple transactional requirement is really interesting.

“I think this approach is something that Toys R Us should have embraced long before they fell into liquidation earlier this year. Their huge, out of town stores presented lots of opportunity to diversify their offering and create an experience for their customers. A unique and interesting experience may have given them enough of differentiator to keep the brand alive.

“Debenhams only have to tap into an emotion that already exists and communicate to their customers – the idea of ‘going shopping’ as an activity to be enjoyed rather than a necessary means to purchase. I’ll be interested to see how the communication strategy manifests in stores and I think this will be key, if the new approach is to be successful.”