Lillywhites has been based at Piccadilly Circus since 1925 and has long enjoyed a reputation for being the sports shop to visit. However, recent times have not been kind to Lillywhites and in 2002 it was sold to Sports World International. Before the change the company policy was to compete on quality products, but now discount goods are the focus of the store. Lillywhites is now little more than another Sports World store.
The company has however retained its more mature client base, and remains a popular tourist destination.
There are few positives to the shopping experience here. The nature of the building means that space is limited, but this is made worse by the disorganised and messy merchandise. The floor plans are unhelpful (and sometimes misleading). Two slow, cramped lifts make the stairs an easier but tiring option.
The staff are not particularly helpful and on our visit seemed more interested in talking to each other. When we asked for assistance the reply was “If it’s not out we haven’t got it”. The merchandising is basic and there is nothing of interest visually other than racks and racks of goods, most of which contain discounted and not high quality sportswear.
In the summer the store becomes very warm making it even more unpleasant to shop in.
Today’s Lillywhites is little more than a discount store. The heritage and reputation the brand enjoyed for most of the twentieth century has been severely undermined. If you want the latest Chelsea top then you will find it here, and there are many bargains to be had. This is the type of thing you might see at a retail park sports wear chain, not Piccadilly Circus. Where’s the experience? Where’s the fun?
Value Positioning ***
If you can stand the cramped conditions long enough there are bargains to be found. Good equipment (e.g. Dunlop, Wilson’s, Prince etc) and football shirts are available at prices lower than the internet and other retailers.
The product offering is at odds with the location of the store and the Lillywhites brand. While the store needs to sell sports wear at good prices, it needs better product at higher prices to improve overall.
- Reduce the stock levels and enable customers to browse (to increase dwell times and average spends).
- Specialise and offer bigger ranges for selected sports (e.g. golf).
- Incorporate events and/or personality appearances.
- Train the staff in customer service
- Reduce the level of discount items (keep the bargains, remove the tackier items).