The former boss of New Look, Phil Wrigley, has sounded the death knell of the traditional high street, and described Mary Portas’s review as the “right diagnosis, wrong prescription”.
Wrigley – who in his time as chief executive doubled the number of New Look stores, many of which are in town centres – believes that high streets would be best used for residential developments rather than shops.
He said the traditional high street model is “almost completely moribund” and warned: “It is irrelevant to the needs of shoppers today, let alone tomorrow.”
In a speech at Oxford University, Wrigley, chairman of Majestic Wine, said parking fees, out-of-town centres and the growth of online meant traditional high streets were in the middle of a “real, genuine and irreversible crisis”.
“I believe passionately in retail and I believe passionately in high streets. I just think their marriage is over and it’s time for them to go their separate ways,” he said.
He maintained: “Unlike Ms Portas, I don’t think we can continue to try to muddle through supporting the traditional high street model.”