A week on the high street

15th April

April 15, 2021

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DIY retailer Homebase has partnered with fashion and homeware brand Next to create 6 concession stores within the larger Next units. Stores to benefit from the partnership are located in Bristol, Sheffield, Ipswich, Warrington, Camberley and Shoreham. Alongside this, the retailer is rolling out smaller ‘Decorate by Homebase’ concepts on high streets. CEO of Homebase, Damian McGloughlin said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Next and bringing our garden products and expertise to its stores. It’s all part of our wider commitment to make shopping with us easier and provide even more inspiration and expert advice.


Grocer Morrisons has become the first supermarket to totally remove plastic bags from stores in a move which will see 3,200 tonnes of plastic removed from circulation every year. Bags have been replaced with a paper alternative which can hold up to 16kg in weight which also have a lower carbon footprint. Morrison's Chief Exec said in a statement: We have been listening hard to our customers over the past year and we know that they are passionate about doing their bit to keep plastics out of the environment. Removing all of the plastic bags from our supermarkets is a significant milestone in our sustainability programme.”

 

Chief Exec of sportswear brand JD Sports had made calls for rent reductions in London as footfall has been so badly impacted across the capital. While sales for the business were “at the upper end of expectations” on reopening day, he has stated that central London will take some time to recover. He blames both the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic for creating a perfect storm of challenges that meant footfall has been “battered to death”. In a statement he said: ““Market forces will make [those stores] more economical because clearly central London footfall has a large reliance on international travel and that will take time to come back…I don’t think stores in central London will disappear as a feature on the high street, but there may be some repricing.”

 

Exec Director at John Lewis has said that they will not close further stores following its recent announcement. Recent closures have seen the department store’s estate fall from 51 to 34, seeing around 3,000 jobs lost. In a statement she said: “We don’t have any more proposed closures. That would not be appropriate for customers and partners." She added that she “thinks stores are really important, but we need to have well-invested stores… in the right place”.

 

Leisure

Rosa’s Thai Café is continuing with its expansion plans this year, opening 6 new restaurants as well as dark kitchens, designed to serve a local delivery catchment. Half of the new sites will be within London and half will be spread across the UK. Rosa’s has continued to operate by takeaway and deliver during the pandemic which has preserved its expansion plans.

 

Pubs and restaurants have spoken of their confusion around reopening guidelines as councils enforce different rules this week as the leisure market reopened its outdoor settings. Some businesses have been asked to ensure staff and customers wear facemasks outdoors and some indoors only. UK Hospitality, the trade body for the market has asked for councils to adopt a ‘light touch but consistent approach’ to enforcement of these rules.

 

Property

Landlord British Land has announced that it collected 76% of quarterly March rents so far, with just 54% paying on time as lockdown meant that many stores were able to trade for the entire period. The group also shared that it had completed 1.4m sq ft of retail renewals and lettings in the 11 months of the financial year, an improvement on the picture from 2020. A spokesperson for British Land said in a statement: “We are further aligning our mixed-use campuses towards innovative growth sectors and businesses. We have several clear opportunities, most notably at Regent’s Place which sits in London’s Knowledge Quarter and is ideally placed to benefit from the growing life sciences sector and Canada Water where we have secured a highly flexible planning consent. At Broadgate, we have repositioned the campus towards innovative, successful growth businesses.”

 

Outlet centre group McArthurGlen has opened a new £160m venue close to Birmingham. This marks the only shopping centre which is due to launch in the UK this year. Co-CEO Susie McCabe said in a statement: “This opening represents not only a huge milestone for McArthurGlen as we continue to grow our European footprint, but a defining moment for brick-and-mortar retail as the only stand-alone shopping centre to open in the UK this year. As we emerge into a new consumer landscape, we know customers still crave the extraordinary day-out shopping experiences and moments of magic that only physical retail can offer, and we remain extremely confident that West Midlands will deliver this.”

 

Next has taken up the 50,000 sq ft of vacated space left by John Lewis in the Parkway Centre in Newbury. The new flagship store is expected to open in the summer and will carry ladies and menswear, homeware and will house a Mamas and Papas concession. There are also plans to open a café within the store. A spokesperson for Parkway owner Aberdeen Standard Investments said in a statement “Having recently closed the retail park store, choosing Parkway shows Next’s belief in the future of the High Street.”

 

Openings and closures

One of the world’s leading designer lifestyle brands, Tommy Hilfiger, is to open two new stores in Scotland, at Hammerson’s flagship destinations Silverburn, Glasgow, and Union Square, Aberdeen; Brewer and pub group Brewdog has confirmed it will be opening a hotel under its Doghouse brand in Edinburgh in the third quarter of the year.

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