RETAIL AND LEISURE
75 years after it opened its first shop, Oxfam has opened its first ever superstore in Oxford where the organisation began. The 18,500 sq ft unit sells both donated items and the ‘Sourced By Oxfam’ range of ethically sourced gifts and homewares. It also has a café that is housed in an Oxfam water tank.
Entertainment and travel chain WHSmith have signed an agreement to acquire US travel chain Marshall Retail, for $400m (£312m), to drive its international travel growth. The US retail chain has 170 stores across the US, 59 of which are in airports and 33 more are expected to open by the end of 2024.
Following the boycott by gay rights charity Reading Pride the debut UK restaurant for US fast food chain Chick-fil-A will be closing again after the six-month pilot period at Reading’s Oracle Shopping Centre. The US chicken restaurant operates over 2,000 sites across North America but has been criticised over reported historic donations to anti-LGBT+ organisations resulting in the shopping centre deciding not to extend the lease.
157-year old American toy brand FAO Schwarz has opened its first European outlet within Selfridge’s flagship London store. It has taken over 22,000 sq ft of the Oxford Street store that will house more than 2,000 product lines including the FAO Schwarz toy line.
Tech investment firm Prosus has launched a hostile bid for Just Eat going directly to the shareholders with an all-cash offer in an attempt to scupper the food delivery group’s merger with its Dutch rival Takeaway.com. Prosus already has stakes in German food delivery group Delivery Hero, Brazil’s iFood and India’s Swiggy. The bid was swiftly rejected by Just Eat who are still pressing ahead with the Takeaway.com deal.
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has completed the acquisition of the 93,000 sq ft Brookfield Shopping Park in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. Sports Direct have said that the shopping park is “set to receive significant investment” which will include the modernisation of the exterior, new leisure, hospitality and retail offerings that will include Ashley’s brands: Sports Direct, USC and the luxury multi-brand retailer Flannels.
CVAS & ADMINISTRATIONS
Yorkshire-based women’s fashion chain Bonmarché has appointed administrators. The over-50’s specialists, who employ almost 3,000 staff, will continue to trade from their 318 shops whilst a buyer is sought. Despite looking at other options including refinancing or a CVA the company concluded that nothing would “fundamentally change the core challenges facing the business”.
Peter Jones, the Dragons Den star, who bought camera chain Jessops out of administration in 2013 is reportedly planning to call in administrators again to help secure the future of the high street brand. It is understood Jones will seek a CVA to rescue its property arm JR Prop Limited that may well lead to closures and job losses. The chain currently has 46 stores and employs around 500 staff.
Fourth-generation family-owned Scottish department store chain Watt Brothers has gone into administration closing all 11 stores and making 229 of its 306 employees redundant with immediate effect. Incorporated in 1915 in Glasgow the chain went on to open in Irvine, Lanark, Falkirk, Port Glasgow, Hamilton, Livingston, Clydebank, Clarkston, Robroyston and Ayr.
SHOPPING CENTRE OPENINGS
intu Derby sees premium fashion retailers Hobbs and Whistles; Cribbs Causeway has signed new sustainable fashion retailer All Good Things and beauty retailer Space NK Apothecary; intu Merry Hill sees three new leisure operators opening in the form of Dr Earner’s Distillery Bar, Ten Steps Coffee Lounge and Red by Night; Molton Brown has opened in Hammerson’s flagship Westquay in Southampton; intu Trafford Centre has welcomed high-end accessories brand Coach; JD Sports has opened at Folkestone’s Bouverie Place Shopping Centre and Angry Birds Adventure Golf has opened at intu Metrocentre.
High-end sports brand Castore, backed by Andy Murray, has opened its first pop-up on London’s Kings Road; Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping Centre will see a 4,000 sq ft Disney store ahead of the “important festive trading period”; Danish womenswear brand Gestuz will be in Selfridges Manchester for six weeks as it focuses its international expansion on the British market; Seven Dials is home to #LoveNotLandfill pop-up teaming up with a variety of charities and fashion influencers to champion pre-loved clothing and Bicester Village has teamed up with the British Fashion Council to showcase 30 of the UK’s top up-and-coming fashion designers;