A week on the high street

21st April

April 21, 2021

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British Land has partnered with Aviva Investors to open two new fitness stores at SouthGate shopping centre in Bath. US-based retailer Peloton, which specialises in fitness equipment that allows users to connect to livestreamed classes, has opened a 6100sq ft showroom across two floors. Canadian sportswear brand lululemon has opened a 2800sq ft store in the same area, where it plans to run complimentary yoga classes. Head of Retail Leasing at British Land, Ben Grose, said in a statement: “The host of high-profile lifestyle and retail brands signing for space is a strong indicator of the enduring appeal of SouthGate as an experience-led shopping destination.”

Textile design company Laura Ashley has relaunched its homewares department with its first shop-in-shop showroom at Next. The new flagship at Next’s Westfield White City store is the first of 49 new showrooms opening within Next stores across the country. The relaunch coincides with the reopening of non-essential retail, in a move which Laura Ashley called “immensely well-received”. The partnership was part of restructuring plans laid out by investment firm Gordon Brothers, who rescued the Laura Ashley brand from administration but did not include its stores in the deal. Instead, Gordon Brothers plan to expand Laura Ashley’s portfolio of franchisees and boost its presence online.


Industry charity retailTRUST has joined with retail leaders and experts across the UK to champion workers’ health and wellbeing. Morrisons chief executive David Potts will join leaders from companies such as John Lewis, ASOS and the British Retail Consortium in delivering a series of talks. Topics during the free event range from how to be happy at work to the benefits of mentoring. Chief executive of retailTRUST, Chris Brook-Carter, said: “It has never been more important for the industry to come together to understand how we can really look after and protect our colleagues and this event will begin to show what action needs to be taken to protect the future of the industry as well as sharing advice and expertise on a range of issues.” The ‘Championing the Health of Retail’ event takes place on the 10th and 11th of May.


Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the brothers behind petrol station empire EG Group, are looking to take control of coffee chain Caffe Nero. By buying up the company’s £140m debts, they are in position to take over if it defaults. They have also recently acquired healthy food-to-go chain Leon for £100m. One of Leon’s co-founders, John Vincent, has sold his 15% stake in the business, but expressed his belief that the Issa brothers would be “superb custodians” of the Leon brand.


Amazon has opened its first hair salon in East London. Customers at the Amazon Salon in Spitalfields will be styled by Neville Hair and Beauty Salon’s Elena Lavagni and her team of stylists. They will also be able to buy products from Amazon’s beauty store, using new technology that allows customers to point at physical products and order them using their Amazon account. John Boumphrey, the company’s UK manager, said: “We want this unique venue to bring us one step closer to customers, and it will be a place where we can collaborate with the industry and test new technologies.” Appointments will be available to Amazon’s UK employees first, with bookings for the public to open in the coming weeks.

 

Leisure

WingShack Co has announced its new expansion plans. Specialising in chicken wings and burgers, it has announced five new London locations and two outside the city, in Manchester and St Albans. Founder Josh Jarvis said in a statement, “It’s been a crazy year for everyone, but I really believe it’s been a year of opportunity for us. We’ve managed to remain positive throughout and so many great opportunities have arisen for us to expand our business quicker than we could’ve imagined.” WingShack Co is one of a number of chicken specialists planning rapid expansion across the UK, joining American brand Popeye’s and the South Korean Pelicana.


Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that nearly half of all jobs lost in the last year were in hospitality. The total number of paid employees in the UK fell by 813,000, 43% of which were in hospitality. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called for the government’s continued support of the sector, including a commitment to lifting Covid restrictions on the 21st of June.


Hero Brands, the operator behind the German Doner Kebab (GDK) chain, is planning an aggressive expansion of its Choppaluna brand. Choppaluna, which specialises in salads, wraps and smoothie bowls, opened its first UK site in London’s Bloomsbury last November. There are plans for a further two sites in London, with Hero Brands also selling 60 franchise units across the UK. Choppaluna co-founder Nikras Agha said he believed that this could expand to 300 restaurants across the country by 2029.


UKHospitality Cymru has called for the Welsh government to bring forward the reopening date for indoor hospitality. With coronavirus cases in Wales at their lowest since autumn, there is no reason indoor hospitality cannot reopen on the 17th of May along with England and Scotland, say UKHC. First Minister Mark Drakeford is yet to set a date, but has suggested the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May. Outdoor hospitality in Wales is set to reopen on the 26th of April.


Eataly is set to make its London debut at the end of the month. The world’s biggest Italian restaurant and food hall group is opening a 42,000sq ft site next to Liverpool Street station. The “food haven” will include restaurants, bars, a cookery school and a cheese laboratory, along with London’s “biggest Italian wine cellar”. The La Terrazza di Eataly restaurant opens on the 29th of April, with further restaurants opening on the premises in May and September.

 

Property

British Land has also acquired a retail park in Bedfordshire for $49m. Having sold £1.2bn worth of its offices and shopping centres in the last year, the landlord is reinvesting in retail parks and warehouses, a move supported by the relative resilience of retail parks during the pandemic and the reliance on online shopping during lockdowns. In a statement, British Land said that they have also invested in a unit trust covering a further 10 parks and are on the hunt for more.

British sportswear retailer Castore has launched an upsized 2600sq ft retail space at Liverpool ONE. Not far from the company’s Liverpool headquarters, the upgrade represents a commitment to the brand’s roots and its presence in the city. Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland said that the upsized store “signifies the resilient demand for bricks-and-mortar retail space across the estate”, and added that “Castore is a fantastic locally-owned and internationally-renowned brand to enhance the premium character of Peter’s Lane.”


Hackney Council has greenlit plans to build a hotel on the site of Street Feast’s Dinerama street food market. The council approved plans to demolish existing buildings and build a new office and a 12-storey, 295-bedroom hotel at the Shoreditch location. Work is expected to begin onsite early next year and be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

 

Openings and closures

Incipio Group’s food pop-up concept Pergola is opening its first permanent bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Canary Wharf; Pizza Pilgrims is to open a second site under its spin-off restaurant concept Slice next month; Highly-regarded French chef Alexis Gauthier is to open a casual vegan restaurant within Mayfair department store Fenwick later this month; Chef and restaurateur Damiano Vecchio is to open an Italian restaurant and ‘pasta workshop’ within Ashford’s recently launched Elwick Place leisure development.

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