TK Maxx being refused a store by the Queen’s Crown Estate, a story Retail Week broke on Friday, has caused quite a stir.
The fact that the story quickly made it onto the pages of dozens of publications including the London Lite, The Sun and even USA Today online, proves how much it means to people.
Perhaps nobody told the Crown Estate, but the days of snobbery towards value shops are over. TK Maxx has just as much right to trade in Piccadilly Circus as anyone and would make a better fist of it than other brands did whose former stores there now lay empty.
While the rest of us scrimp and save to make ends meet, to know that value retailers are being blocked from opening stores because they aren’t chic enough is bound to cause offence in the wider world
But even more important is that at a time like this, when empty property is in abundance, there needs to be a very good reason why retailers are being refused permission to open stores.
If it were Regent Street that TK Maxx wanted to plant their flag on, it would be different. Crown Estate has done first-class job improving the shabby retail offer on the street with big-name signings like Apple, Banana Republic and Gerry Weber. TK Maxx may well have been out of place among this lineup.
But Piccadilly Circus is a different offer altogether. One of London’s most iconic hubs known across the world, it is first and foremost a tourist destination with shops, bars and clubs to match. And with Lillywhites and Tiger Tiger also in the neighbourhood, a value fashion brand would hardly be out of place.
Crown Estate should be congratulated for trying to keep standards high, but given how tough the market is they should make sure they keep one foot on the ground as well.