A week on the high street

21st October

October 21, 2020

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Another 400 jobs are to be axed at food to go brand, Pret as it continues to struggle in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six shops will close across its London and airport portfolio as its recovery is tempered by rising cases and increasing local restrictions spreading across the country. UK MD Clare Clough said: “It’s absolutely right that we take steps to stop the spread of the virus and tackle the new wave of infections. Sadly, the result of the rise in infections and the necessary shift in public health guidance mean that our recovery has slowed."

Customers at Whole Foods Market will soon be able to purchase fresh produce which has been grown in store thanks to a new partnership with urban farming network, Infarm. Two modular vertical farming units will be installed in two of the London stores in Kensington and Fulham with plans to roll the scheme out further if successful. Available to purchase from the sustainable farming walls, which benefit from a small environmental footprint will be; Mountain Coriander, Flat Parsley, Basil, Mint, Dill, Thai Basil and a range of lettuce.


Waitrose and the Co-op have both announced they will slash prices across own brand and essential products by an average of 15% as they prepare to battle to win over value-conscious consumers. Many of the big brand supermarkets are conscious of the impact of the recession and are hoping to avoid losing more market share to the discounters Aldi and Lidl, as per the previous recession.


Big 4 supermarket Asda has opened a new ‘sustainability’ store with unwrapped produce, product refill options and recycling stations. The store will also feature sustainable George at Asda fashion items, alongside products from vintage clothing wholesaler Preloved. CEO Robert Burnley said in a statement: “Today marks an important milestone in our journey as we tackle plastic pollution and help our customers to reduce, reuse and recycle. We have always known that we couldn’t go on this journey alone, so it is fantastic to work in tandem with more than 20 of our partners and suppliers, who have answered the call to test innovative sustainable solutions with us.”


Retail tycoon Mike Ashley has made another bid to buy embattled department store, Debenhams. Debenhams fell into administration back in April, for the second time in a year and firms have been lined up to facilitate a sale and to prepare to liquidate the business.


UK shoppers spent £261m more on alcohol in grocery stores last month as the 10pm curfew came into effect and the eat out to help out scheme came to an end. Overall, sales across supermarkets and corner shops increased to 10.6% in the four weeks to 4th October, up from 8% in the previous month.


The world’s oldest toy store, Hamleys on Regent Street in London is to make a quarter of its staff redundant, cutting 60 of 208 staff in response to a dip in sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID crisis has also delayed plans to refurbish the store, which pre-COVID was a key tourists attraction for those visiting London.



London-based healthy food to go brand Abokado has brought in administrators as it was unable to reopen its 19 stores across the capital as the city remains quiet and staff stay at home. In a statement, Mark Lilley said: “The impact of COVID019 on the hospitality and leisure industry has been catastrophic and I feel for each and every business owner and employee within this sector. However, for a business such as Abokado, which is entirely dependent on London’s office community, the overnight shift to working from home and the emptying out of central London has been simply devastating. Our market, overnight, ceased to exist.”


German fast casual brand German Doner Kebab is planning to open 12 more restaurants by the end of the year in locations including London, Nottingham, Bradford, Plymouth and Edinburgh. CEO Imran Sayeed said: “We are excited to build further momentum in our plans for growth and to be creating hundreds of new jobs throughout the country as we maintain our mission of building the fast-casual brand of the future.


Lothbury Investment Management has sold two retail units on Cheapside which are currently let to Clintons and Holland and Barrett for over £11m. The move comes as Lothbury moves away from retail with the aim of ‘rebalancing’ it’s portfolio.

Department store John Lewis will become a residential landlord as part of a major overhaul which will see the brand branch away from retail to build 20 rental homes. John Lewis has said it is diversifying as retail alone will no longer provide sufficient profit to enable the business to pay its wages and invest in the business.

Viewranks Estates has been given the green light to redevelop two retail units in Kingston into a co-living scheme. The site, which previously was home to PC World and Sports Direct will be developed into 200 high quality co-living homes. Tim Chapman-Cavanagh, director at Assael Architecture which has designed the scheme, said in a statement: “Having lived in the borough for over 15 years, our vision from the outset has been to keep the vibrancy we’re all used to in the town centre. The development not only offers new homes to help retain talent in the borough, but also brings in people and activity, alongside increasingly important co-working and home working opportunities that enables residents and the local community to easily separate home life from work without the need to travel to the office.”

Openings and Closures

Cain International has announced Islington Square is set to welcome a long list of independent brands including Borough Kitchen, Babataa, Duck & Dry, and Treat Beauty; Restaurateur Markus Thesleff is to open a Mexican and Japanese restaurant, Los Michis, in Notting Hill next month.

H1 2020 market analysis


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