A week on the high street

9th June

June 9, 2021

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UK retail sales saw their highest levels since the start of the pandemic in May. The British Retail Consortium said that sales increased by 10% last month compared with the same month in 2019. The strongest growth was seen in sales of furniture and homewares, as well as clothing and footwear. The reopening of physical shops and indoor hospitality drove sales growth of more than 100% for clothing retailers. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retail sales were buoyant in May thanks to the reopening of hospitality, coupled with the afterglow of non-essential retail’s own return. Pent-up demand for the in-store shopping experience, as well as the first signs of summer weather, helped retail to the strongest sales growth of the pandemic.”

Zara has opened a new regional flagship store in Wales. The 36,500sq ft store in Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre comprises the retailer’s full range of womenswear, menswear and kidswear across two floors. The store is the latest in a series of new Zara locations to feature its new omnichannel format, including an automated click-and-collect point, joining similar stores in Bluewater, Dubai and Barcelona. It is hoped that the new format will drive footfall to the stores.

Sainsbury’s has launched four new Neighbourhood Hub stores this year. The new concept extends the supermarket’s range, with a bigger selection of products in a wider variety of sizes, to provide a one-stop-shop with “product choice and community at heart”. Most of the seven hubs also include an Argos click-and-collect facility. The first Neighbourhood Hub opened in Woodhall Spa in 2019 and has since been joined by locations in Penwortham, Whitstable High Street, Billingshurst, Melbourne Derby Road, Bishop’s Waltham and Midhurst. Sainsbury’s property director Patrick Dunne said: “Our newest Hub stores look great and I’m sure our customers will enjoy doing more of their shopping closer to home. We’re continually investing in our store network and adapting our estate to ensure it best reflects our customers’ changing shopping habits and local demand.”

British contemporary design brand JOSEPH has opened a new boutique at The O2’s Icon Outlet in London. The 1427sq ft store stocks the luxury label’s main collection of womenswear, accessories and footwear. JOSEPH joins other luxury retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein at the Icon Outlet, which was recently ranked one of the top 10 UK hotspots for fashion brand openings over the last 12 months. Leasing director for Icon Outlet Marion Dillon said: “We are excited to welcome such an iconic British design label. JOSEPH perfectly complements our premium female fashion and lifestyle offering at Icon Outlet. We have seen strong consumer demand since reopening and the continued growth of our brand mix is attracting increasingly affluent customers from across London and the home counties.”


Boxpark is set to open its first site outside of London next year. The shipping container concept, which has locations in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley, will open Boxhall in Bristol. The 20,000sq ft space will include a food hall showcasing local street food traders and restaurants and two terraces offering a view of the waterside. There are plans for a community-led events programme and gaming experiences to be hosted at the site. Mike Sinclair, director at interior architecture company Macaulay Sinclair, said: "Having worked with many well-known multi-site and independent restaurant and bar operators, we aim to create the most imaginative food hall interior to capture the essence of Bristol's O&M sheds' historical value. Together we will bring a curated social dining experience to a stunning landmark location."

Italian restaurant chain Prezzo will open its first new site since 2018. The new restaurant is expected to open in late summer, at Cain Internationals Islington Square development. Prezzo, which was acquired by Cain in 2020, aims to test its new energy-efficient kitchen plan at the new site. Executive chair of Prezzo Karen Jones said: "It is truly exciting to be opening a new Prezzo restaurant. The new Prezzo Islington will be the greenest Prezzo to date and will serve as a test bed for sustainability initiatives that we can roll out across all our restaurants. The location of the restaurant in Cain's Islington Square development demonstrates the ambition of Prezzo's partnership with Cain and the confidence both companies share in the resilience of the British high street."

Boparan Restaurant Group is planning to open 500 sites under its new Caffé Carluccio’s concept in the next five years. The first site launched last Wednesday at Sainsbury’s St. Albans superstore. The concept serves a range of coffees and cold drinks alongside all-day breakfast food, snacks and pastries, and a selection of Carluccio’s retail products including biscotti and chocolate. Alongside its partnership with Sainsbury’s, BRG plans to open more sites across travel hubs, city centres and neighbourhood locations in the UK. Satnam Leihal, managing director at BRG, said: “We acquired Carluccio’s in May 2020 and are rebuilding the much-loved brand by evolving the concept whilst adhering to its authentic Italian roots.”


Plans for a hotel and leisure development on the site of an old Debenhams in Edinburgh have been approved by the City of Edinburgh Council. The redevelopment on Princes Street was proposed by Legal & General Investment Management and includes a 207-bedroom hotel, a restaurant, a lounge, a spa and a rooftop bar. Bill Hughes, head of real assets for Legal & General Investment Management, said: "The UK needs urban centres that are fit for purpose and support growth. We continue to work hard investing in centres and creatively repurposing real estate to ensure the vitality of urban areas that need to evolve.” Construction is expected to begin in 2022, with the hotel scheduled to open in 2024.

Two Accor-branded hotels in Reading, the Mercure George Hotel and the Ibis Styles Reading Centre, are on sale. The hotels, available as a pair or individually, benefit from rental income from companies who occupy space on the premises- Prezzo and Workhouse Coffee Company at the Mercure George Hotel and a convenience store at the Ibis Styles. Henry Jackson, head of hotel agency at Knight Frank, said: “If purchased jointly, the potential purchaser has the opportunity to own 128 bedrooms in a prime city centre with additional retail units… As the hotel and leisure sector opens up, we continue to see prime hotel assets such as these attracting considerable interest in the market."

Openings and closures

The team behind nightclub Chinawhite has opened British restaurant Rendition in Manchester; The team behind Italian restaurant Il Portico are to launch a sister site, Pino, in Kensington; Diogenes the Dog founder Sunny Hodge is to open his second wine bar in Battersea; the team behind Bao will launch Bao Noodle Shop in Shoreditch later this month; Argentinian chef Fernando Trocca will launch a London outpost of his restaurant Sucre in Soho next month; The Le Bab restaurant group has opened its first late-night kebab shop on London’s Old Street; Pizza Pilgrims has opened its 15th site in Waterloo.

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