December 16, 2020
American business Authentic Brands Group, who owns US brands Brooks Brothers, Forever 21 and famous department store Barneys is said to be eyeing up both the Arcadia Group and Debenhams estates, which both fell into trouble last week. There has been a lot of interest in some of the Arcadia Group brands from business such as Primark, Boohoo, Marks & Spencer and Next as well as Frasers Group which is owned by retail tycoon Mike Ashley.
UK supermarkets are bringing back restrictions on certain items amid fears that consumers will stockpile products such as loo roll and pasta in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Supermarkets are urging consumers not to stockpile as they have ensured they have good stocks themselves of essential products.
London and parts of Hertfordshire has been moved into Tier 3 today due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the capital and home counties. Although non-essential retail can still trade, many bars, pubs and restaurants will have to shut again, which is likely to be the final straw for many businesses. Eddie Curzon of the Confederation of British Industry London said in a statement: “Businesses in London understand that rising infection rates must be controlled and tougher restrictions are necessary to save lives and protect against longer-term economic scarring. However, the financial impact of moving London into tier three will be stark. Businesses – particularly those in sectors like retail and hospitality – will have been counting on a festive fillip to help mitigate months of hardship and further restrictions now will come as a devastating blow. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods could be at risk."
Frasers Group has announced that it will open 60 sq ft of space in Birmingham city centre as part of wider plans to open multiple flagship stores across the UK. The Birmingham store is due to open in Spring 2021 and will contain multiple brands under one roof: Sports Direct, USC, Evans Cycles and GAME alongside an e-sports arena for customers.
Menswear Moss Bross has had a CVA approved as it aims to reset its cost base and move to turnover based rents for some stores. CEO Brian Brick said in a statement: We are incredibly grateful to our landlords and suppliers for their support in this process and proud of our employees for the way they have dealt with all that 2020 has thrown at them. We also recognise the backing of our new shareholders throughout the challenges of the takeover, pandemic and CVA process.”
The hospitality sector has seen the biggest rise in unemployment this year than any other sector, figures released by the ONS show. Hospitality unemployment increased by 58,000 up to 171,000 over the year, accounting for a third of all redundancies.
Nightclub operator Deltic is on the brink of administration after it had to close all 52 sites from March when the pandemic hit. The group employs about 1,000 people across its Pryzm and Bar & Beyond brands. Private Equity firms Greybull Capital and Aurelius as well was favourites Scandi operator Rekom Group are all rumoured to be interested in making a bid. The Night Time Industries Association has already raised fears about the British club culture becoming ‘extinct’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and have called for more financial support and a roadmap to when these businesses might be able to reopen.
Restaurants, pubs and hotels across the capital are desperately finding ways to use the huge volumes of food they have ordered in for the festive period and avoid wasting millions. Anna Haugh, owner of restaurant Myrtle in Chelsea said: "Why let us open to just shut us again? The amount of wasted food is heartbreaking. In a restaurant like mine although it's a small menu we can't reduce what we offer as it will impact the standard of the restaurant. I'd say we are feeling the pinch, but it's actually like repeatedly being punched."
West End landlord Shaftsbury has seen the value of its portfolio drop by 18% as it continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduced value is a result of uncertainty around rent collection and reduced occupier demand. CEO Brian Bickell said in a statement: "Rarely in history has the world seen such widespread disruption to normal patterns of life. Only now are we seeing the first positive signs that conditions will begin to improve in the year ahead."
Wigan Council has appointed Cityheart and Beijing Construction Engineering Group International as strategic development partners to support the £130m redevelopment of the Galleries Shopping Centre. The proposed development will rework the current scheme to include 460 residential units, a hotel, a market hall and co-working and office space. Leader of Wigan Council, David Molyneux said in a statement: “These proposals very much reflect the feedback we got from residents about the importance of vibrant town centres during the Big Listening Project in 2018 and the more recent consultation held earlier this year.”
Openings and closures
Taco Bell, the world-famous Mexican-inspired restaurant brand will open a new restaurant in Clapham; Online electricals retailer AO has opened a new and improved outlet store on St Helens Road in Bolton; San Carlo Restaurant Group is launching a new Italian restaurant concept at St Christopher's Place in London's Marylebone next year; Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based restaurant chain Neat Burger has chosen Soho for its third London site as it gears up for more rapid growth in 2021.