June 10, 2020
Troubled department store Debenhams has announced the permanent closure of three more sites in Newcastle, Milton Keynes and Watford as it failed to agree terms with landlord intu. A spokesman for the brand said “Sadly we have been unable to agree terms with the landlord. As a result, these stores will not be reopening in line with the rest of the chain next week. We greatly regret the effect on our colleagues, who have served our customers with commitment and dedication. Our customers can continue to shop with us online at debenhams.com or at other local stores from next week.”
Monsoon Accessorize has been bought out of administration by former owner Peter Simon after closed stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in huge losses across the brands’ 230 UK stores. The move will save up to 2,300 jobs across its head office, distribution centre and up to 100 stores from the current portfolio.
Fashion brand Quiz has announced that it has taken the decision to appoint administrators in a move to restructure its struggling retail store portfolio. A spokesperson for the business has said they hope the move will “enable the group to operate an economically viable store portfolio alongside its online, UK concession and international channels” which will be unaffected by the administration.
Homeware retailer Dunelm has opened a new concept on Crawley High Street. The smaller Dunelm Edit fascia sells a selection of products which are most popular in the Crawley area – a move which, if successful, will be replicated in future iterations of the Edit fascia. The store also includes an augmented reality display where customers can browse and order the full Dunelm catalogue.
The government is considering a year-long suspension of restrictive Sunday trading laws across England in a bid to boost the economy post-lockdown. Stores could open for longer in the hopes of attracting more people into stores. However, some have raised concerns about how this will impact the time that retail workers will get to spend with their families.
Footwear retailer Schuh has released store reopening plans for next week with new safety measures including reduced hours and a requirement that any returned items are to be quarantined for 72 hours before being made available again. Any shoes tried on in-store will be sprayed with disinfectant. In a statement the retailer said “Stores reopening is critical to Schuh’s recovery plan so every decision taken is very carefully considered and plans will be constantly reviewed to ensure they are working.”
Menswear brand Moss Bros will open 16 stores from Monday, mainly across outlet centres or locations with spacious parking close by. The brand has also announced a new personal shopping experience which will offer customers a no-obligation one-to-one fitting in a bid to attract customers into stores.
Tesco Ireland has announced a partnership with green energy company Green Generation which will see food surplus from the supermarket turned into electricity and sold back to the retailer to power stores. The process will see food turned into biomethane, a clean carbon-neutral fuel that can be used for heating, transport and electricity. Tesco Ireland’s chief executive Kari Daniels said “This new initiative will help us in our ambition to become a zero-carbon retailer by 2050, as we work together to support national and international climate action.”
Gap will reopen as many stores as possible from next Monday, with discounts of up to 60% on sale items and 40% on full price. Due to the mass closures of stores, many brands have implemented aggressive discounting on stock in a bid to revive sales which slumped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Restaurant Group which owns casual dining brands including Wagamama’s, Garfunkel’s and Frankie & Benny’s is set to close over 100 sites putting 3,000 jobs at risk. This follows the group placing its Mexican cuisine brand Chiquito’s into administration in March, which saw 60 sites close down.
McDonald’s has announced plans to reopen some sites to walk-in customers next week, after all stores were closed due to the pandemic back in March. At the end of May, they reopened a selection of sites to drive-through and delivery customers but did not serve walk-in customers. Strict new measures will be in place such as limiting the number of customers in store at any time, providing hand-sanitising stations and seating areas, toilets and lifts will be closed off.
Chief Exec and Founder of Mexican restaurant Wahaca Mark Selby has said that reopening post lockdown is “going to be hell”. His comment comes as hospitality businesses bid to reduce the social distancing from 2m to 1m, which would make it much easier for these businesses to operate. Mr Selby continued "A lot of people are going to be nervous about coming out. We've all got to do our jobs in making people feel confident, making them feel safe, but also giving them that experience that hospitality is."
London landlords Soho Estates and Shaftesbury have set up a campaign in a bid to temporarily pedestrianise Soho in central London to allow restaurants and bars to set up outdoor areas in which to service customers for the summer period. They hope to open up surrounding streets to create multiple areas for seating for the duration of the summer. Soho businesses are supporting the campaign such as Soho House, G-A-Y and The Groucho Club.
Pret A Manger, Wasabi and New Look are three of the brands that have launched negotiations with landlords to move to a turnover-based rent model in a bid to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses. The new model would link rental amount due to the turnover for each site.