A week on the high street

21st July

July 21, 2021

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retail

Supermarket chain Morrisons is to trial its first store without tills. The site near the brand’s Bradford headquarters will allow customers to collect groceries and leave immediately. The new concept involves customers scanning a key in a mobile app on arrival. Cameras track the products they select and their account is debited accordingly. The concept reflects recent findings by retail tech company Ubamarket: 43% of British people surveyed wanted their shopping experience to require as little human contact as possible in the wake of the pandemic. Melissa Minkow, retail industry lead, CI&T, said: “The till-less model seems to fit most comfortably into categories where customers rarely need advice, like grocery shopping and personal care, so it is no surprise that supermarkets are becoming early adopters… When done correctly, till-less retail actually contributes to a richer shopping experience. This is because the model begins and ends with customer data. Whole new fields of customer insight and analytics can be opened up.”

Frasers Group has opened the first site for its new Flannels Beauty concept. The 30,000sq ft beauty store in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre is the first of three openings this year, with stores to follow in Leicester and Liverpool. The stores will offer a range of brands across multiple price points, including luxury brands such as Chanel and Gucci Beauty. Interactive and digitally connected trial booths will allow customers to test products in a more Covid-safe fashion, and in-store experts will provide advice and recommendations. Frasers Group head of elevation Michael Murray said: “We are confident in our ongoing elevation strategy and believe if you’ve got the right location, right environment and right brands then there is still a massive demand for physical space.”

The National Basketball Association has launched its first UK store on London’s Carnaby Street. The shop offers official merchandise and basketball memorabilia. At the store, a partnership between the NBA and sports brand Fanatics, shoppers will also be able to buy personalized jerseys and hats. Zohar Ravid, general manager of Fanatics’ international business, said: “Opening the first-ever physical NBA retail store in London, combining our vertical product and e-commerce strengths with Lids’ high street execution, is a logical step and clearly within Fanatics’ strategy of expanding teams’ and leagues’ omnichannel presence so fans globally are served in the best way.”

Leisure

The government has launched a new hospitality strategy to “support the reopening, recovery and resilience” of England’s restaurants, pubs, cafés and nightclubs. It includes a dedicated Hospitality Sector Council headed by industry leaders and government officials such as Prezzo executive chair Karen Jones and Business Minister Paul Scully. The initiative also includes working with the DWP to offer hospitality roles to jobseekers in an attempt to address the recruitment crisis faced by the sector and extending pavement licenses to allow more outdoor dining. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said in a statement: “We look forward to working closely with the minister and as part of the sector council to deliver an action plan that enables our nation’s hospitality venues to bounce back from the devastation caused by the pandemic and return to creating jobs and careers- supporting Government’s agenda on levelling up”.

Honi Poké is to open four new sites in London in the next four months. The openings in Victoria, Bishopsgate, St Paul's and the South Bank will bring Honi Poké’s portfolio to 14 sites. Recent openings include Fulham and Westfield Stratford City, and a dark kitchen that opened in Manchester last month. The expansion plan runs parallel to the launch of delivery-only sushi brand Honi Sushi, which has five London locations. The group aim to have a site in every major UK city by 2023.

Resident Hotels is to open its sixth location on the site of a renovated 1960s office building in Edinburgh. The 166-bedroom hotel, on the site of a former HM Revenue and Customs office, has been redesigned by architects Michael Laird and Associate. Rebranded from Nadler Hotels 18 months ago, Resident Hotels aims to offer a home-from-home experience; rather than a traditional F&B offering, it offers table service in the lounge alongside room service. The Edinburgh site joins the brand’s other properties in London and Liverpool and is expected to open in 2024.

Coffee brand The Gentlemen Baristas has launched its sixth site at London’s East India Docks. The Republic development includes a roastery and restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The site will host events such as cocktail masterclasses and supper clubs. Co-owner Ed Parks said: "This site is our most diverse yet and feels like the culmination of everything the Gentlemen Baristas is about - a welcoming place for outstanding coffee, great service, and conversation. Being situated in Republic is great to build a community within East India Docks and we hope to become the beating heart of this exciting, thriving area."

Property

British Land has bought Thurrock Shopping Park for £82m, which it hopes will be an “urban logistics redevelopment opportunity”. The retail park’s current tenants include TK Maxx, Boots, Pets at Home and Dunelm. In a press release, they said: “We have expanded our approach to include development led investment into urban logistics and in line with this, acquired the Thurrock Shopping Park for £82m (an attractive £3.81m per acre) from Nuveen Real Estate, one of the largest investment managers globally. This presents a clear urban logistics development opportunity given its prime location just off the M25 and proximity to east London.”

Operator Ellandi is to transform the 2million sq ft+ Merry Hill shopping centre in the West Midlands over five years. The investment of over £50million will build on the existing retail offer that includes brands such as Next, Primark and JD Sports, and enhancing the existing leisure offer. 22 units are in negotiation or under offer to new occupiers, with over 230,000sq ft of space on offer. Plans also include a ‘Leisure District’ offering non-retail activities to shoppers of all ages. Ellandi co-founder Mark Robinson said: “Despite the pandemic, Merry Hill has seen footfall outperforming city-centre locations and other super-regional shopping centres, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Our plans will ensure that by 2025 Merry Hill will be the West Midlands’ most vibrant family lifestyle destination, embedded at the heart of the local community.”

Hammerson and British Land are to end rent concessions in the wake of ‘Freedom Day’. Both waived some rents during the pandemic and could not evict commercial tenants under the government’s rent moratorium, which is still in effect. However, improved footfall in retail areas and most tenants “trading well” has led to both stating that they do not anticipate making any further concessions. British Land said in a statement: “With trading restrictions substantially lifted, and the vast majority of our customers trading well and paying the rent due, we do not expect to make further concessions this quarter.”

Openings and closures

Dalston tequila bar Hacha is to open a second site in Brixton next month; Kevin and Nicola Tickle have opened locally-inspired restaurant Heft in Cumbria; Chef Atul Kochhar is opening two restaurants this year, Masalchi in Wembley Park and Riwaz in Beaconsfield; Bar Crispin, the new natural wine concept from the Crispin brand, has launched in Soho; Yellowhammer, a bakery, deli and pottery concept, is to open in Stockport Old Town next month.
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