A week on the high street - 28th July 2021
Date published: Date modified: 2021-07-28

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Pilot schemes aiming to address declining numbers of banks have been running in the UK. The Bank Hub concept brings together staff from five major banks- NatWest, Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and Santander- to offer drop-in appointments and banking services throughout the week. The hubs have so far proved vital to small businesses and older residents who rely on cash for transactions and require less complex financial support, and may also boost trade in the surrounding areas as customers no longer have to travel to neighbouring towns for banking services. However, it is not yet clear whether the hubs will remain after the pilot scheme ends. The Bank Hubs are in Ampthill, Bedfordshire; Rochford, Essex; and Cambuslang, near Glasgow.

As it celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first store opening, HMV is looking to open 10 new sites. Doug Putnam, the Canadian music retail executive who bought the brand out of administration, expressed faith in the future of media and music retail on the high street as HMV’s online sales success had helped to offset the loss of in-store sales over the pandemic. A spokesperson said of the expansion plans: "We're continuing to expand with new sites, looking at a combination of factors before making a decision. The upcoming business rates review will no doubt have an impact, not only on HMV, but on the wider British High Street.”

New Edinburgh retail destination St James Quarter has announced the signing of iconic British toy brand Hamleys. The 2,475sq ft store is set to open in the coming weeks and will include its well-known in-store demonstrations with giant bubbles and flying drones. Chris Pyne, director of retail, Nuveen Real Estate said: “Hamleys will further diversify the great mix of international brands and popular local names at St James Quarter as we seek to build further on our exceptional shopping offer.”

Leisure

English nightclub owners have reacted to the news that they will only be allowed to admit customers after checking their COVID status. From the end of September, nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues will require visitors to either be double-vaccinated or be able to prove a negative test result. Clubs, which have had to remain closed for the past 16 months, have received no specific government support, and operators believe that the recent announcement could further delay recovery and create even more financial hardship for businesses. Chief executive of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls called it a “hammer blow” for the industry.

Spanish-owned spa concept Aire Ancient Baths has launched its first UK site in London. Inspired by ancient bathing practices in Ancient Greek, Roman and Ottoman civilisations, the site near the Strand includes seven baths of varying temperatures and also offers treatments. Chief executive Amadeo Serra has said he is confident in the site’s ability to attract visitors, even during a pandemic. He said: “The new AIRE Ancient Baths London will add a new experience for Londoners and visitors to the UK capital, and become a place of reference for those seeking luxury indulgence, rest and relaxation.”

Property

Superdry has agreed the lease of the site previously occupied by Forever 21 on Oxford Street. The fashion retailer is set to open the store opposite the new Bond Street Crossrail station next year after it agreed the lease with landlord M&G. The 28,000sq ft site will replace Superdry’s Regent Street store as its London flagship. Superdry chief executive Julian Dunkerton said: “I’m a firm believer that physical stores will play a vital role in the future of retail, and as a proudly British brand, it’s important we have the best possible presence for Superdry in London, for our customers, for our wholesale partners and for the influencer community.”

Soho Estates is looking for a leisure occupier for a 20,000sq ft site in London’s Leicester Square. The developers have appointed Colliers to find a new tenant to turn the site, which currently hosts Burger King, Pizza Hut, Chiquito, Zoo Bar and offices, into a new destination for visitors to the area. They are keen to work with tenants to create a bespoke leisure space that complements the occupying brand. Soho Estates’ Philip Thompson said: “As a long-term investor in the West End, we are committed to leaving our legacy in Leicester Square by attracting a quality brand which will have broad appeal to the area’s visitors… we are looking to secure a long-term partnership with a global brand and build a bespoke new property to suit their needs, which we hope will become synonymous with the area.”

Openings and closures

Chef Merlin Labron-Johnson has opened Provençal restaurant The Old Pharmacy in Bruton, Somerset; Bar and restaurant Fiend has opened in London’s Notting Hill; Italian restaurant Rico’s Ristorante has opened in Edinburgh: The Greedy Gordons Pub group has opened The Pig & Waffle in Grafton Underwood, near Kettering; Yard Sale Pizza is to open its eighth site in Crystal Palace; Mediterranean restaurant The Engine Rooms is to open at the Hexagon Classics car showroom in Finchley; Monopoly-themed restaurant and bar The Top Hat is to open next door to the Monopoly Lifesized attraction on Tottenham Court Road next month.
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