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August 2018 finally puts paid to the stereotype of bland British cuisine (or cucumber sandwiches if you are posh), the British food revolution continues…

05 September 2018 by Katie Shaw

August was the month where we finally had some respite from the heatwave that shocked the nation for a good eight weeks. Whilst the countryside was grateful for the rain, our team of field researchers were not! However, even though many were on holiday, the evolution of the UK retail landscape never takes a break. So, if you missed it, here are our market highlights from August.

Leisure, rethought

Redemption Roosters executed their strategic dominance over London with multiple coffee shops opening with no sign of abating. Bloomsbury and Farringdon have already been conquered, with King’s Cross to follow and a further eight scheduled to open by 2020.

Scottish-based Italian restaurant group, Vittoria, announced plans to take over a former church and listed World Heritage site to inhabit, setting up their flagship fish and chip restaurant in Edinburgh’s Old Town 

Burger & Lobster launched their spin off Shack by Burger & Lobster brand in August, offering bargain lobster rolls for under a tenner.

Carnivores rejoice as Flat Iron will open its sixth venue in King’s Cross, promising an experience instead of a traditional restaurant. The company will offer ‘make-your-own’ bloody Mary boxes and ice cream frozen instantly on a super-cooled slab. 

Flat Iron Henrietta Street LondonFlat Iron on Henrietta Street in London. (Source: LDC)

Fine food store and restaurant chain Eat17 opened a new branch in London’s Hammersmith (adding to its diverse roster of locations, from Walthamstow to Whitstable, Hackney to Bishops Stortford). Not content with offering artisan food and drink in a market hall setting, the new store will also allow room for yoga classes.

‘Imaginative name of the month’ goes to TV celebrity and chef Gino D’Acampo, who launches his first My Coffee & Deli Bar, as part of his My Pizza & Prosecco Bar within clothing stalwart Next, in Manchester’s Arndale centre. 

Costa Coffee has been sold to Coca-Cola for £3.9bn after Whitbread bought the coffee chain in 1995 for just £19m. Chief Executive Alison Brittain explained that Coca-Cola wanted to buy Costa because "they want a coffee product, they have no coffee in their range".


Making ‘spaces’

Plans are afoot to make Leith Walk in Edinburgh a premium leisure, retail and lifestyle space, with the addition of a hotel, student accommodation, live venue, eateries and shops. Incidentally, Glasgow’s waterfronts are also undergoing major improvements, finding other ways to convince the general public to part with their cash. Alongside planned residential properties, there will also be an multiplex cinema, a gym and a new £10 million urban whiskey distillery, bottling plant and visitor centre.

Major developments are also planned for The Marlowes in Hemel Hempstead and The Mall in Walthamstow, extending the shopping experience for visitors and incorporating affordable housing to create fully-functioning living spaces. You may never need to leave…

The Marlowes Hemel The Marlowes Shopping Centre in Hemel Hempstead. (Source: LDC)

Highly popular leisure and dining concept Boxpark has submitted plans to Brighton & Hove council to help revive Madeira Terrace which has fallen into disarray in recent years. The seafront area has retained its broad historical Victorian arches, which once housed restaurants and bars, with crowdfunding campaigns set up to restore it to its former glory.

Chorley Council has redevelopment plans for Botany Bay Outlet Village, situated within reach of major cities Liverpool, Manchester, Hull and Leeds. Proposed plans include various retail units, as well as 300 homes and restoration of the iconic Victorian cotton mill, proudly illustrating the North’s industrial past.

Famed for War of the Worlds and Paul Weller, Woking town centre is on track to deliver major improvements to the tune of £500 million. Victoria Square will feature two apartment towers, a 23-storey Hilton hotel, two public plazas, as well as Marks and Spencer’s anchor store.


For all the Commuters

Debenhams will open an in-store gym with Sweat! in its Sutton (Surrey) store in September. Sutton has already seen a influx of various low-price gyms crop up in the last 18 months, such as The Gym Group, Pure Gym and Go Gym all within a close radius. These have added to the pre-existing Fitness4Less, and soon the promise of a David Lloyd to be built in a forthcoming residential complex close to the railway station. Debenhams is also rolling out a Doddle click & collect service across all 165 stores. During its trial more than 150,000 customers chose to collect from Debenhams, with at least 30% of those also making in-store purchases. 

Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire celebrated its first year anniversary with further extension plans. The retail and leisure destination not only showcases a myriad of stores, but also kayaking and cycling around its famed wetlands and nature reserve.

Reading town centre is undergoing a period of change, with developers planning to convert traditional high street retail properties into more lifestyle-orientated spaces, providing a gateway between the increasingly busy connection railway hub and town centre.

Ireland’s Applegreen has acquired a majority stake in petrol forecourt behemoth Welcome Break, which will make it one of the largest motorway service operators in the UK.

Homebase will close 42 stores in 2018-19, due to being bought out by restructuring specialist Hilco who purchased the garden centre from Wesfarmers for £1.

Homebase, Bishop AucklandHomebase store in Bishops Auckland. (Source: LDC)

Iceland are partnering with home and garden store The Range in the Midlands and North West, in a scheme they plan to roll-out nationwide.

For those wishing to save on international postage, John Lewis is increasing its product range with American clothing brands, such as the preppy J Crew, and the younger Madewell.

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley rescued House of Fraser with a cash injection to stop the renowned department store crumbling into administration, with a promise to keep the bulk of its 59 stores open. Ashley previously owned a 11% share in House of Fraser, and still retains almost 30% in its rival Debenhams.

Intu shopping centres has partnered with car giant Mazda to offer a virtual reality driving experience in its key locations, such as Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Milton Keynes and Lakeside.


And finally – the human race might just be saved

Costa Coffee announced a roll-out of its Chatty Café scheme following its trial earlier this year. The company wants to encourage more communication in its coffee shops, by including designated ‘Chatter and Natter’ tables in 300 branches and encouraging us to put our devices down and talk face-to-face.

Wall’s ice cream has unveiled a new concept brand called Soft Republick, with a focus on bringing communities together over the simple joy of ‘messy creativity.’ Brighton’s flagship branch offers an art gallery and chill-out events space. Smaller kiosks are due to appear in popular transport hubs - as re-imaginings of traditional ice cream vans – featuring a portable plug-in cream machine that allows flexible partnerships with local establishments.

Sainsbury’s customers in Clapham are trialling a ‘buy now, pay anywhere’ concept using Apple Pay. The SmartShop app takes away the need for a cash register or even self-serve section, and could (hopefully) obliterate the highly annoying ‘incorrect item in bagging area’ message forever.

Lidl is following in the footsteps of Morrisons and its ‘wonky fruit’ concept to help decrease food wastage. It is trialling ‘Too Good To Waste’ fruit and veg boxes across 122 stores, and hoping to bring perfectly fine (but not conventionally pretty) fresh produce to the forefront. #innerbeauty #prettyontheinside

For more information on market activity and how this might impact your town or business, get in touch with us at 

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