A week on the high street

7th July

July 7, 2021

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retail

M&S has introduced its third-party brand offer at its Westfield Stratford City store. The new partnerships with brands such as Fat Face, Phase Eight and Hobbs, the first partnerships of its kind for M&S, were initially launched online. The Stratford store marks the first physical instance of external brands on display, but the idea could be tested at other stores. However, Marks and Spencer is not looking to adopt a department store model. Clothing and home managing director Richard Price said: “Our primary effort is driving own-brand. What we have that department stores don’t is phenomenal own-brand. We’ve deliberately curated brands that we know the M&S customer shops - we haven’t prayed and sprayed.”

Dutch retailer Hema is to close its six UK stores, seven years after its 2014 arrival here. The variety store will close its UK stores in order to focus more on core markets in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Chief executive Saskia Egas Reparaz said that Hema had not managed to establish a solid position in the UK. She said: “We are now evaluating our entire country portfolio with the aim of being able to focus on a limited number of countries, which will allow us to better exploit growth opportunities in the future. This is better for Hema, its employees and its customers in the long term.”

Leisure

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that almost all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted on the 19th of July, with some of the greatest effects felt by the hospitality industry. Venues no longer need to operate with table service only or enforce social distancing and mask-wearing. Notably, nightclubs and music venues will be allowed to reopen after having been closed since the start of the pandemic. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own restrictions, and each government has set its own schedule for easing them. Whether the final phase of reopening is to go ahead as planned will be confirmed on the 12th of July.

Treetop Adventure Golf will open a new site in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre. The leisure operator, which owns three other sites across the UK, has taken on an 18,500sq ft unit, which will include two indoor mini-golf courses and a seated dining area. Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, said: "The team at Treetop Bullring are experienced operators, and they have really invested in this site to bring it to life. It is a great entertainment addition to Bullring & Grand Central, and a strong example of a brand with a distinctive offer that will no doubt keep customers engaged and entertained when they visit the destination for a day out."

Inhabit Hotels is to open its second London site on Paddington’s Queens Gardens this autumn. The hotel has converted a series of Georgian townhouses into a 159-bedroom hotel, near the existing Inhabit Southwick Street. The new site includes a wellness area with a gym and yoga studio, which will also offer morning meditation classes. It has also partnered with Tokyo Bikes allowing guests to rent bicycles and helmets during their stay.

Property

Space requirements for physical retail are set to decline, according to new CBRE research. The research found a direct correlation between high online penetration levels and a reduction in physical store space, with space requirements expected to decrease by up to 16% by 2025. CBRE UK head of retail, Rhodri Davies, said: “Retailers are becoming increasingly efficient in their use of space, meaning they can use less space to achieve the same level of retail sales. We have seen significant changes in our sector over the past 12 months and we will see more as retailers continue to adapt and evolve.”

Colliers’ new Midsummer Retail Report indicates that as many as 1 in 3 retail premises in the UK may be ‘zombie shops’, either vacant, not producing income or occupied on a short-term basis only. Along with the extension of the commercial rent moratorium to March 2022, the findings led to a call for the government to do more to repair the relationship between landlords and occupiers. Colliers head of UK retail David Fox said: “Whilst free-market economics must be allowed to be the driving force of changes in the industry, thoughtful legislation and regulation would allow breathing space so businesses can assess options, adjust business models and seek investment for stabilisation – and even opportunities for growth in a rebooted market.”

Mixed-use developer First Base is to agree its first lettings at the new Edward Street Quarter development in Brighton. The six buildings will host offices, retail and hospitality, and work is expected to be completed next year. Space has also been set aside for 168 new homes, which will be a mix of private space and more affordable units. Project director Steve Eccles said: “With Grade A office space, new homes, retailers, cafes and leisure facilities, as well as green spaces and inspiring public art, Edward Street Quarter is set to become a destination in its own right. We are on track to complete next year and welcome occupiers, visitors and the local community alike.”

Openings and closures

Mexican chef Adriana Cavita is to launch her first solo restaurant, Cavita, in London’s Marylebone this year; Indian restaurant Manthan, which will focus on sharing plates and cocktails, is to open in Mayfair this summer; Canada-based Vietnamese food concept Delicious Pho will launch its first UK site in London’s Spitalfields; The founders of restaurant Top Cuvée are to launch a wine bar in Bethnal Green this summer; Japanese restaurant brand KIBOU will open its third site this year, in Bristol; DC Comics-inspired restaurant and bar concept Park Row will launch on Soho’s Brewer Street in August.
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