A week on the high street

14th September

September 13, 2021

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Department store Bobby’s has returned to its original site after almost fifty years. The site in Bournemouth became a Debenhams in 1972, which closed after Debenhams went into administration. The store is being opened in phases; departments already open include an ice cream parlour, beauty hall and food hall for dogs. Attractions are set to include a nail bar, art gallery and rooftop terrace. Ashley Nicholson, director of Verve Properties, who is overseeing the building’s restoration, said: “The aim of our project is to prove there is a future for high streets across the UK.”

Foot Locker has opened its first-ever community hub in London’s Brixton. The concept aims to involve the local community in the design of their shoes. The store features art by Brixton artists, a dedicated women’s apparel section and a revamped House of Hoops area for premium trainers such as Nike Air Jordans. The reopened store launched with a visit from local basketball team Brixton Topcats, a trainer arcade machine and free trainer customization.


Last month, London room rates and hotel occupancies rose to their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. According to STR findings, occupancy for August stood at 56.8%, an improvement on June this year, when occupancy was 41%. Performance remained below pre-pandemic levels: August 2019 saw occupancy levels of 86.2%. Chris Tate, head of hotels and accommodation at RSM, who analysed the data, said: “It’s great to see hotel occupancy increasing as the UK economy opens up; and it’s encouraging that levels are already outstripping last summer’s reopening following the first lockdown… Increased competition and staycation demand is slowly driving room rates up, but oversupply in London is hampering the wider UK recovery as low occupancy levels in the capital depress the national picture.”

New research from Barclays shows that hospitality and leisure are the sectors the most concerned with environmental sustainability. 70% of hospitality and leisure respondents rated sustainability as ‘extremely important'. 60% of hospitality and leisure bosses said that sustainability is very important to investors and shareholders- the highest response of any industry. 70% said it was very important to customers and 63% said it was important to their suppliers. In July, the hospitality industry was praised by the government for the progress it was making in reducing its carbon consumption, and the steps it was taking towards a net-zero strategy. Head of sustainable and transition finance at Barclays, Marco DeBenedictis, said: “Tighter rules and regulations around sustainability are to be expected over the coming years as we work towards greener solutions to reduce emissions across all industries.”


Ikea has reportedly agreed to acquire 214 Oxford Street for £385m. The purchase includes the 100,000sq ft former Topshop store, the 73,000sq ft Nike Town and a 4,700sq ft Vans store. The acquisition has yet to be confirmed by the Swedish retailer. A spokesperson for Ikea UK and Ireland said: “As part of our accessibility plans in the UK & Ireland, we are constantly looking for new ways to better meet our customers’ needs. This includes investing in our online offer, rebuilding and adapting existing Ikea stores, and exploring different formats and locations as part of a new city centre approach. We review our expansion strategy on an ongoing basis but have no plans to share at this time.”

Property developer Sovereign Centros is looking to overhaul Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre. Plans submitted to Glasgow City Council include new shopping and leisure space, a four-star hotel and apartments and converting a former Debenhams store into offices. Discussions with key stakeholders and public consultations are expected to follow in the coming months, with a planning application in preparation for submission later this year. Leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken said: “The city centre is now undergoing change as it faces new challenges and prepares to take new opportunities, and we welcome any proposal that shows the continued investor confidence in the future of the area, and can help in our economic renewal."

Openings and closures

South African restaurant group Kudu Collective has opened its fourth site in London; Pizza Punks is opening its fourth restaurant in Leeds; Tigre Tacos has opened a permanent site in London’s Stoke Newington; Modern British concept Galvin Bar & Grill is to open at London’s Kimpton Fitzroy hotel in Bloomsbury; Middle Eastern-style steakhouse concept The Black Cow will launch in Camden next month; Ramen group Kanada-Ya are to open two new London sites in Carnaby’s Newburgh Quarter and Ealing’s Filmworks development; Wine bar and restaurant pop-up space Le Cave will open at The Hoxton in London’s Holborn this month; Nottingham fish and chip restaurant The Cod’s Scallops is to launch its fifth restaurant in the West Midlands town of Harborne, its first location outside of the East Midlands; Italian pasta chain Miscusi is to open its first UK site in Covent Garden in November; Cantonese roast meat restaurant Three Uncles has opened its second London site in Camden.
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