A week on the high street

30th September

September 30, 2020

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retail

Greggs will reinstate expansion plans as sales continue to improve, with sales back at 76% of 2019 levels in September. It expects to open 20 new stores this year as it rolls out a click and collect service. The majority of the new venues will be in locations that can be accessed by car. Despite improving sales, Greggs recently announced it would have to reduce its employment costs following the conclusion of the furlough scheme at the end of October.


Grocery brands Tesco and Morrisons have both brought back rationing of certain product lines in fears that customers have started to stockpile again. Purchasing limits have been placed on items such as toilet roll, baby wipes, flour, pasta and hand sanitiser. Despite the stockpiling, both brands have reassured that they have plenty of stock and have appealed to with customers to shop normally.
 

COVID-19 has rendered thousands of retail jobs ‘unviable’ according to Next boss Lord Wolfson. Less shop-floor staff will be required as demand for physical retail continues to drop over the coming months and years. However, there is hope as jobs will be created in call centres, distribution channels and warehousing across the Next business.

Discounter Aldi has pledged £1.3bn of investment into its UK estate over the next two years with 100 new stores, 100 refitted stores and innovations across the business and distribution networks. It is thought that the investment will create around 4,000 new jobs next year. Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi UK said “For over 30 years, our success has been driven by the ever-increasing number of shoppers who put their trust in Aldi every time they shop with us. This is what enables us to keep investing in Britain – in our products, our prices, our people and in the communities we serve.

 

Food to go brand Pret saw 16,500 customers sign up to the coffee subscription scheme on its first day, smashing targets at the businesses of 2-3,000. Pret has faced huge challenges in the face of the pandemic and has been forced to rethink its strategy and diversify, with plans to sell coffee in Waitrose, open dark kitchens and a new location strategy focusing more on residential locations.

 

Discounter B&M has announced plans to open up to 45 new stores this year after good performance throughout the pandemic. Sales increased by 29% between March and September compared to 2019 as the brand kept most stores open throughout lockdown.

 

Owner of DIY brands B&Q and Screwfix, Kingfisher, is to hand back £23m of furlough money after a boom in sales due to people staying at home and looking for ways to freshen up their homes themselves. Aside from those shielding, all UK employees were back at work by the end of May as it reopened stores across the country.

 

leisure

Revolution Bars Group has confirmed that it is working with advisors to support a CVA following last week’s announcement of a 10pm curfew. In a statement a spokesperson for the group said: "Further to the continuing challenging trading environment and exacerbated by the further Covid-19 related restrictions announced by the government earlier this week, the board of Revolution confirms that it has been working with advisers to assess various strategic options for the group.

 

French Bistro brand Côte has been acquired by private investment manage Partners Group who say they have ‘ambitious plans’ for the brand. WhileCôte was forced to close during lockdown, they quickly moved to delivery with its 'Côte at Home' campaign in a bid to support the business while the entire estate was closed.


 

Property

Northampton Borough Council has purchased an ex-Marks & Spencer site for £1.45m after it closed in 2018. The council plans to turn it into commercial and residential space after demand for the site was depressed due to low footfall. Plans for the site include leisure space on the ground floor with one and two bed apartments on the floor above.

60% of West End rents that were due over the past 6 months are still unpaid according to London landlord Shaftesbury. The pandemic has caused an exodus from the city, as many move to the countryside and international students stayed at home, which has resulted in significant numbers of flats remaining empty across some of the most fashionable districts.

 

Chief Executive of Revo, an organisation which represents those invested in retail property has warned of £2bn in arrears as a result of retailers being unable to pay rents during the pandemic. In a statement, she said ““The government’s decision to extend the moratoria has simply fuelled the confidence of the well-heeled to continue exploitation of a system intended to protect businesses in genuine distress. There is little justice in singling out property owners as the fall guys to indiscriminately compensate large and valuable operators for their cashflow. But having done so, the repercussions will reverberate through the economy for years to come as the capital for regeneration dries up, investors look to safer havens elsewhere and anyone who has put their savings into retail property faces huge losses.”.

 

Openings and Closures

Homebase launches Kitchen and Bathroom showroom in Guilford; M&G Real Estate and intu, joint owners of Manchester Arndale, have announced Cruyff, the lifestyle and shoe brand, will open its first UK store in the centre; Andrew Wong’s restaurant Kym’s in the City of London’s Bloomberg Arcade will not be reopening; London's second Nobu hotel, on London's Portman Square, is opening on 9 November, with Grant Campbell as general manager; ‘We're going to miss the community': Elephant and Castle shopping centre closes after 55 years.

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