Retail News Winter 2011/12

The national trend now is for shoppers to frequent larger shopping centres for a day out, less often, partly due to petrol costs, in preference to going to smaller centres.

Retail sales grew by 0.7% in October, but retailers are cutting margins, while facing higher costs. The mild winter so far has hit clothing sales and 40% of clothing retailers have cut jobs but John Lewis, the UK retail thermometer of good retailing, was 9.6% up on last year.

Average vacancy rates in UK High Streets excluding London in 2010 rose 2.5%. The worse 90% were found in the North and Midlands. (Local Data Company). Deals on the lease terms are usually available outside London and the South East, but it will depend on the strength of the location. The incentive offers available have fallen though from sometimes nearly 2 years rent free, to one year or less in many cases. What the Euro crisis will bring, it is hard to judge, but it will be less likely to affect London.

Barratts and Priceless Shoes went into Administration again this week, the second time in 3 years, with its 191 shops. HMV sales were down 20% in September, battered by internet competition.


Sales are likely to be £290M in the West End this weekend close to Christmas. Vacant shop rates are effectively zero. Overspending nations in West End London shops, were China,Japan, UAE,Thailand,Russia and Hong Kong, spending on average between them £906 and £1974 per head. Selfridges sales to Chinese were up 70% year on year.

London continues to defy any global downturn. Investors regard Bond Street investment akin to gold, with wealthy investors finding a haven to store their money with Krit Ratanarak one of Thailand’s richest families paying £32M for the Prada Store (3.1% yield) & JP Mc Manus, the Irish Racecourse owner, paying £18.5M for Cartier’s store.

Covent Garden Market is now becoming more of a designer fashion destination, from being an open air flea market with Vilebrequin the French swimmer chain having opened a new store, following others like Broar, G-Shock, West, Burberry Brit, Ralph Lauren and Apple.

Other Streets to watch are South Molton Street & Shoreditch. Mount Street too has become a luxury destination with Loewe, RRL, (LVMH Group) recently moving in.

Berlin based Patrick Hellman wants to open in Mayfair as do Chloe, Celine, Alice Temperley, Brietling, IWC Scaffhausen and Paerai watches.

Aquascutum closed its London Regent Street flagship store, which was taken by Austin Reed and has moved out to Westfield’s Stratford City and White City.

German based Golfino, the leading European golf fashionwear designer and retailer are after at least one flagship shop in the West End and are also looking throughout the UK at suitably upmarket locations.

Coach of NY is opening its next store in Air W1 in Regent Street, along with Stone Island on Brewer Street as well as Woolsey & Jack Spade.

Alexander McQueen took a 4500 sq ft store in Bond Street, Kurt Geiger in James Street Covent Garden and Isabel Marant a 3500 sq ft store, in Bruton Street.

Gudrun Sjoden the Swedish Fashion retailer in 40 Countries online and mail order wants 3 stores in Chelsea Covent Garden and Marylebone High Street of 2000 sq ft.

H Stern international jewellers, want Bond Street & Knightsbridge, while Intimissimi-ladies underwear- want 1000/1600 sq ft in the West End and Kingston. Diesel Black Gold are after 2500 sq ft in Conduit Street, while Oliver Sweeney wants more in London.

Shoe retailers all seem to be on the expansion trail with Destiny and Unique Shoes expanding from their 4 branch bases, into shops in Ealing and Kingston, while Ecco, the Danish Shoe company (4th largest shoe manufacturer, with 22 shops in the UK) are after 500/1200 sq ft nationwide from Bath to Edinburgh.

Pavers Shoes are seeking 2500/3500 sq ft, while Deichmann (3000 branches internationally) are desperately trying to find 4000 sq ft stores in the UK.

Unze, the ladies party shoe brand, opened a flagship store in Stratford City and Dr Martins 800/1200 sq ft wanting to open in Spitalfields, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

The White Company need 750/1250 sq ft and are looking at all up market towns and Ebay wants to open a 2500 sq ft flagship in the West End.

Nanos Spanish Children’s clothes (47 shops), need 450/1000 sq ft in Clapham, Hampstead, Kings Road, Marylebone, Spitalfields & Wimbledon Village.

Jessops are back on the expansion trail for around London in 1000/2000 sq ft shops.

Stratford City Westfield opened and the 8th October exit survey, 13 days later, saw 1.9M visitors, the largest footfall in any UK Shopping Centre. It is almost fully let with anchors in M&S, Waitrose & John Lewis. It also has a designer- fashion quarter. The customer conversion rate is the only issue, due to the less affluent hinterland, but Apple took £1M sales on its first week.


The food sector continues to thrive with Cook (ready meals) with 58 stores, mainly in the South, are targeting 750/1500 sq ft shops in the London suburbs, while Greggs, Costa, Muffin Break, Subway, and Café Nero continue their expansion in the UK. However Pizza Hut’s 700 restaurants now and outdated and tired brand, is up for sale by Yum Brands, 5 years after it took control from Whitbread.

M&S Simply Food, Tesco, Waitrose, Co-op and Sainburys continue to grow with an insatiable appetite for 3000/4000 sq ft shops throughout the UK.


A mixed performance by retailers, but the message is the up and coming brands are succeeding despite everything and taking market share from the dying and tired brands. Quite a few retailers have gone to the wall this year, but most have re-emerged in new guises under new ownership. The picture painted by the Press is often thus very misleading. Internet damaged retailers may not recover though as their time has passed on the High Street.

Jo Jo Maman Bebe want 800/1000 sq ft in London suburbs and across towns in the UK and Cotton Traders (109 stores & concessions) need 1500/2000 sq ft across the UK.

Everything Everywhere – 30 more stores through the UK.

Duchamp need 760/2000 sq ft in the West End as do Orebar Brown after opening in Ledbury Road. Basler have opened in Westfield,Brent Cross and Stratford and want 2000/3500 sq ft in Kings Road, Manchester, Leeds & Glasgow.

Sweaty Betty (24 shops), who appeal to affluent women, with active lifestyles, want 15 more shops in London, Harrogate, York, Edinburgh, Wimbledon, Marylebone High Street, Guildford, Marlow, Oxford etc.

Past Times (110 stores) want more 800/1500 sq ft shops from Barnstable to Harrogate to York as do Farrow & Ball paint/wallpaper (20 branches) now need 750/2000 sq ft countrywide in upmarket centres from Cambridge to Winchester.

Jane Norman bought from the Receiver this year, are expanding into 1800/3000 sq ft shops from Bath to Woking. Half Price jewellers again bought out of receivership now need more shops to add to their 52 stores while Card Factory continue their relentless expansion countrywide as do Wilkinson hardware for 10,000 sq ft stores.

Tabio– hosiery are on the market though with its 3 London stores and Game is closing 60 of its stores due to the competition from the internet.

House of Fraser’s 30% boom in its own brands meant sales were 5.2% up to mid-year and on line sales doubled and H&M sales were 21% up in the UK in September, despite a dip in Europe.

M&S and Primark sales rose 3%. Primark has quadrupled its sales space in 10 years and continues to expand.

Burberry was 24% up in pre-tax profits to September and a 29% sales increase, while Mulbery was up 62% mainly due to its Asian sale as Jack Wills, (56 shops) for fashion conscious teenagers, who increased sales from 64.7M to £92M. Ted Baker’s sales were 13% up and Karen Millen by 15%.


British Heart furniture and electrical stores planning to open 35,5000 sq ft shops every year. Thomas Cook remains on a precipice with 200 shop closures expected, as sales tumbled and a share price collapse.

Hotel Chocolate saw a 25% jump in profits with its 60 shops on a 12% sales increase with more shops rolling out in Edinburgh Covent Garden. Carphone Warehouse closed Best Buys’s 11 stores and Comet was sold to Opcapita, a turnaround firm, for £2!
WH Smith is expanding again into 1250 sq ft shops but sales were down 5%, although profits up 4%.


Arcadia (2500 shops from Top Shop, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Wallis to BHS) lost 33% of its profits are closing 300 shops with many brands going into BHS stores. French Connection issued a profits warning as sales fell by 10%.

Alexon, Dash & Kaliko’s 83 shops and 847 concessions which was bought by Sun European Partners but do not have enough cash for this December quarter and many shops may now close.

Blacks 300 stores are again on the brink of closure. Peacocks are being bought by Goldman Sachs to reduce the £240M debt pile, with 200 stores likely to close, about 1/5th of its group. Calvin Klein is closing all its stores but opening new ones in larger centres.

Supergroups profits fell due to poor stock control and Mothercare reported a fall in sales and may be on the brink of more serious problems.

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