A week on the high street

14th July

July 14, 2021

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UK retail sales saw record growth from April to June this year. Compared with the same quarter in 2019, sales increased 10.4%, the biggest jump since 1995, according to the British Retail Consortium in association with KPMG. The increase was attributed to the easing of lockdown restrictions, release of pent-up demand and the Euro 2020 championships. Head of consumer products at Barclays UK, Raheel Ahmed, said: “Brits flocked back to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch the football and tennis on the big screens, as the heatwave early in the month encouraged many of us to get out in the sunshine and socialise.”

Footfall recovery in retail destinations slowed in June, according to Springboard data. The first week of the month saw an increase in footfall across the UK’s high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, but footfall declined in the following weeks. Worsening weather and the delay to ‘Freedom Day’ likely contributed to this decline, say Springboard. In a statement, they said: “The strong footfall seen in the first week of the month inevitably created misplaced optimism as over the remainder of June footfall worsened incrementally each week. This was undoubtedly a reflection of the lack of impetus for consumers to shop following the government’s announcement in the delay of ‘freedom day’ until 19 July.”

WHSmith is to open 18 new stores under its InMotion fascia. The retailer has already won leases in major UK airports such as Heathrow and Manchester, where it expects a strong recovery for travel retail. In April, Dixons Carphone announced the closure of their Dixons Travel stores, leaving space for a new electronics retailer to take their place. WHSmith said: “Going forward, we see further opportunities to win additional WHSmith stores in airports and hospitals, and we are well positioned as travel markets recover and passenger numbers increase.”

HMV is to open a new 10,000sq ft store at the St Johns Liverpool shopping centre. The music and film retailer was bought out of its second administration by Canadian record store brand Sunrise Records in 2019. Neil Ashcroft, Centre Manager at St Johns Liverpool, said: “HMV is an iconic and enduring brand, and we are delighted to have them joining us in St Johns this July. St Johns has been an important part of the community for over 50 years and the arrival of HMV in the centre is a real cause for celebration.”


Greek street food brand The Athenian is to open three new delivery kitchens. The new sites in Kentish Town, Wandsworth and Balham will join existing kitchens in Wood Green, Brighton, Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester. The openings are a response to co-founder Neo Christodoulou’s departure. Christodoulou launched Smashing Plates, a Greek brand with four bricks-and-mortar locations and five delivery kitchens in the UK which are all on former The Athenian sites. The Athenian’s new delivery kitchens will help to regrow its estate. Co-founder Tim Vasilakis, who remains a director of the group, said: “The Athenian remains a fiercely independent brand and continues to offer its award-winning gyros with its unique recipes from White City, Shoreditch, Victoria and Bristol as well as nationwide delivery kitchens, and is excited to be announcing new sites across the UK very soon.”

Center Parcs is to develop its sixth UK holiday village in West Sussex. Originally Dutch, the leisure brand arrived in the UK in 1987 and now operates sites in Nottinghamshire, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, Penrith and the Republic of Ireland. The new site at Oldhouse Warren, near Crawley, will have 900 lodges with a total capacity of 4,500, along with a ‘subtropical swimming paradise’ and an Aqua Sana spa. Chief executive Martin Dalby will submit a planning application next year, with work expected to take three years to complete.


British Land said that trading at its out-of-town retail parks has almost reached pre-pandemic levels and rent collection has improved across its portfolio. Between the 17th of May and the 3rd of July, footfall at British Land’s retail parks was at 96% of pre-pandemic levels, and sales were at 99%. So far, they have collected 85% of rent due for this quarter, up from 72% in the December quarter. British Land chief executive Simon Carter said: “On our retail parks, footfall and sales are close to pre-pandemic levels, rents are stabilising … and there are indications that retail park values are starting to rise as more investors target the market. At Storey, our flexible workspace offer, activity is above pre-pandemic levels.”

Blackpool Council and IHG Hotels are supporting plans to turn a Grade II-listed former Post Office building into a hotel. The developer, Ashall Projects, has submitted a planning application for a 148-bedroom Hotel Indigo, which would join Indigo Hotels’ 150 locations worldwide. Leader of Blackpool Council Lynn Williams said: “This upscale hotel development will attract extended-stay business and leisure guests to the centre of Blackpool all year round for the benefit of local businesses.” The council is seeking £7m from the government’s Levelling Up fund to supplement the £24.8m investment.

Openings and closures

Steak restaurant Flat Iron is to open a new branch in London’s Borough Market; London’s Holborn Town Hall site will host Indian restaurant Colonel Saab; Brighton-based chicken brand The Bok Shop is to launch new sites in Hastings and Southampton as part of wider expansion plans; Japanese restaurant Sachi will open in Japanese-Nordic retail space Pantechnicon in London this month; A second Shoreditch site for British-Italian restaurant Manteca has been proposed; Italian wine bar Veeno will launch its eighth UK site in Reigate this month; Nico Simeone is to launch the eighth national site for his restaurant concept Six by Nico next month.
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