Now more than ever, the retail property market is becoming polarised.
The big retail property stories of the past week show just how the much talked about polarisation of retail locations is becoming ever more marked.
On the one hand, major centres are doing well, and within that, London is storming with demand for good sites seeming as high as ever on the back of very resilient trading figures. There simply aren’t enough shops to go round, and the battle over the Disney Store unit which is being vacated on Oxford Street is likely to good barometer of the intensity of competition for space.
Round the corner in Bond Street Victoria’s Secret is set to make its long-awaited UK debut and is sure to draw shoppers down the slightly forlon top end of Bond Street, and other new brands from the US and elsewhere in the world also remain eager to make their mark in the UK if only they can find the right unit. Not all will succeed, but the level of interest is highly encouraging.
The case of Textiles Direct seems half a world away from those hallowed streets. It’s not a household name but has 68 stores across the north of England and the Midlands, mostly in secondary towns - to give you an idea the store list on its website begins Accrington, Barnsley, Birchwood…
Last week the company pushed through a CVA in a bid to secure a reduction in rents of 90% on its weakest stores, the first time we’ve heard of that mechanism being used by a major retailer for a few months. Landlords in the sort of towns its located in face a dilemma, because reletting stores in those centres in this market will not be easy.
Textiles Direct serves as a reminder that despite the clear-out of the last couple of years, there is a rump of weaker retailers still out there and still struggling to survive. And the comparison with the boom being experienced in London shows how the polarisation of retail’s property market is only growing all the time.