February 17, 2021
Luxury fashion retailer Burberry is the first non-essential retailer to return the business rates relief offers to occupiers to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic, to the government. It will return about £6m to the treasury, prompting speculation that other non-essential retailers will feel the pressure to follow suit. The news follows announcements by retailers classified as ‘essential’ including some of the big supermarkets and B&Q owner Kingfisher that they will pay the money back.
Westminster City Council has unveiled plans to build a 25-metre climbable hill called ‘Marble Arch Hill’ to lurge shoppers back to Oxford Street in central London. The structure, which will be covered in grass and trees will be open for 6 months from the summer and will also contain space for events and exhibitions inside.
Over 160 CEOs of hospitality businesses have called on the chancellor to extend the VAT and rates relief in a bid to save more leisure businesses from permanent closure. The letter, co-ordinated by hospitality trade body, UKHospitality, coordinated the letter which called also for extensions to the furlough scheme, loan repayment terms to increase liquidity and a replacement for the Job Retention Bonus.
The Major of London, Sadiq Khan has promised £5m to London-based hospitality businesses to support their recovery post-COVID as part of the ‘build back better’ program. He said in statement: ‘I am determined to do everything I can to help our great city recover as quickly as possible from this appealing pandemic. Crucial to that will be the safe reopening of central London and attracting Londoners and domestic visitors back to our amazing restaurants, pubs, cultural venues and of course our major shopping districts like Oxford and Regent Street and Covent Garden.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted that rapid coronavirus testing could be the key to the night time economy opening up again. Nightclubs have been closed in their entirety since the first lockdown in March 2020. Night time occupiers have welcomed initial comments in lieu of a roadmap to reopening.
The Lexicon in Bracknell, which is undergoing a £30m refurbishment into a mixed-use development has secured a deal with Frasers Group to take up 40,000 sq ft of space for its Sports Direct, USC, GAME and Evans Cycles brands.
Plans to redevelop Weston-super-Mare’s Sovereign Centre have been approved which will see the scheme transformed into an events space with room for small F&M operators and a rooftop bar. The vacant units will also become offices for small businesses. North Somerset Council purchased the shopping centre back in 2018 and are using £1.7m of funding for the work.
New River REIT and BRAVO Strategies III have exchanged contracts to purchase The Moor in Sheffield from Aberdeen Standard Investments for £41m. Current tenants at the scheme include Primark, Next, H&M, The Light Cinema and The MOOE covered market owned by Sheffield City Council. NewRiver is considering developing 1,100 residential rental units and 300 student accommodation units on the land. Allan Lockhart, Chief Executive at NewRiver, said: “The acquisition of The Moor with our joint venture partner BRAVO represents a rare opportunity to acquire a 28 acre estate in one of the UK’s largest and fastest-growing cities, at a very attractive price which is far below the breakup value of the site. This acquisition will generate very attractive returns for NewRiver, driven by sustainable rental income and capital growth through the redevelopment of parts of the estate, principally for residential uses.
Openings and closures
EVOKE London is set to open its first UK showroom in The Howard de Walden Estate’s Marylebone Village; Home and garden expert Homebase, is planning to open of a series of new small format stores in Walton-on-Thames in Spring this year; US fast food chain Wendy's is to open a restaurant in Oxford city centre as part of its return to the UK.