A week on the high street

2nd September

September 2, 2020

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Retail 

Homeware retailer Dunelm is set to be one of the winners from the COVID-19 pandemic as pent-up demand for home improvements post-lockdown saw sales increase by 59pc in July compared to 2019. Whilst sales have been better than predicted for the brand, they remain cautious about forecasting for the rest of the year. A spokesperson for the business said: "It is very difficult to provide any meaningful guidance on the future outlook given the uncertainty in the wider economy and the potential impact of further regional or national lockdowns,".

 

Asda has announced that it is going to bring back it’s ‘Asda Price’ campaign this month as it lowers prices on thousands of products in a £100m investment. The move will support its customers through the economic effects of the pandemic and recession. Chief Executive Roger Burnley said in a statement: Burnley said: “We know that given the year it has been, saving money is more important than ever for our customers, which is why we’ve invested in rolling back the price of thousands of products this September and will keep doing so through the rest of 2020 and beyond.

 

Ann Summers and Moss Bros are two of the latest high street names currently considering as CVA in a bid to save money as the impact of the pandemic continues. Lingerie and adult toy brand Ann Summers announced increased yearly loses of £16m, up from £3m in the previous year. Chief Executive Jacqueline Gold commented: “We want to work in partnership with our landlords and our interests should be aligned. That’s why we, like many retailers, think turnover-based rents are the way forward… We recognise that our landlords are businesses too and we understand they will need a return. I’m pleased to say the majority of ours are sensible and have been open to negotiations.

 

In some much-needed good news for the high street Artisan chocolatier Montezuma’s has announced it will be opening stores and hiring staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It currently has an estate of six and is planning on opening four new openings each year for the next five years mainly across regional towns.

 

Leisure

Prolific takeaway food brand Pret A Manger has announced that will it will have to cut 2,800 jobs as the impact of the COVID pandemic has resulted in a dip in sales to levels seen 10 years ago when the business was much smaller. However, on a more positive note, sales at the brand are increasing each week, indicating that recovery is in motion. In a statement, Chief Executive Pano Christou said “I’m gutted that we’ve had to lose so many colleagues. Although we’re now starting to see a steady but slow recovery, the pandemic has taken away almost a decade of growth at Pret."

 

London hospitality leaders have called for a united approach to boosting footfall in the capital. In a letter to the PM and the Mayor of London, the businesses have demanded that politics be put aside in favour of delivering a coordinated campaign to encourage tourists and office workers back into central London. The letter says that as most of the UK are now seeing around 70% of pre-covid sales, figures in Central London are barely at double figures.

 

Opening and closures

Top Scottish chef Mark Greenaway is to open a fine dining restaurant in London next year; Japanese restaurant Taka will open on London’s Marylebone late next month, four months later than planned; The UK's first 'robot-themed' restaurant Robotazia, complete with droid waitresses, has opened in Milton Keynes; West African restaurant Akoko will finally open its doors in London's Fitzrovia in early October; Restaurant group Big Mamma is to go ahead with its plans to open a third London restaurant, in Covent Garden, despite the current challenging trading environment.

 

Property

John Lewis & Partners has signed a new 20 year lease with Sheffield City Council which runs to 2040 and includes a refurbishment planned for 2021. This forms part of the Council’s ‘Heart of the City II’ plans which includes strategic investment in the city. Director of Property and Procurement at John Lewis said: “Shops continue to play a crucial role in our brand story, alongside a strong e-commerce offering. Our focus is on ensuring that we have the right space in the right locations where our customers want to shop.”

 

Hammerson’s investors have approved an £825 cash fund to help the landlord navigate the challenging period brought about by the pandemic. The group which owns Birmingham’s Bullring and the Brent Cross mall will be used to cut debt and shift its reliance on retail within its portfolio. A spokesperson for Hammerson said “The transactions will significantly strengthen Hammerson’s financial position, reducing absolute indebtedness and providing liquidity headroom and financial flexibility as it continues to refocus its portfolio towards flagship destinations in the UK and Ireland and, over the medium term, invests in its mixed-use city quarters development opportunities.”

 

Councils have lost money on retail assets purchased outside of their constituency as an investment as the impact of the pandemic ravages returns on retail property. Not only have councils lost out on rent, but the value of retail property has dipped in the past weeks.

 

Property Week have reported that the Chanel store on bond street is being prepped for sale. JLL has been appointed to sell the 12,600 sq ft unit and hopes to get £240m. 

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