Dan Hildyard has researched the retail streets of New York, Paris and Tokyo but still believes London is winning the race.
The London Marathon earlier this month reminded me that despite having worked in London all of my career and attended conferences all over the world, I still believe London is the capital of the world when it comes to retailing.
That’s not to say I don’t do my research. As with my marathon training, I spend my time when abroad pounding the streets – although admittedly in those cases it’s the retail streets – to try to find the next big thing.
I was in New York earlier this year and inadvertently found myself comparing Manhattan’s streets with those of London – and London won in pretty much every case.
Of course, that is not only down to retailers. The restaurant scene here is, from a real estate and site-finding point of view, incredibly competitive.
That is testament to the unique ownership we have here in the capital – the ‘London Estates’ and how they manage the retailing mixes – but ultimately we have to give credit to the retailers and how they have improved their product, staff and the whole experience.
The nature of the retail market means retailers are planning fewer stores and those stores have to be ‘showcases’ for the brand.
Where better for your showcase stores than a showcase location – whether the Burberry store on Regent Street, Belstaff on Bond Street or Paul Smith on Albemarle Street?
And with names such as North American powerhouses Club Monaco and American Eagle also soon to open here we should consider ourselves very lucky to have such a retail offer on our doorstep.
It is, of course, worth noting that we can only be as good as our competition – and indeed we need strong competition to improve.
So my message to New York, Paris and Tokyo is thank you and keep it up. We need you to be good but, I’m sorry, London is winning the race. We’re still way ahead of the pack and we won’t be beaten yet.
- Dan Hildyard senior director, Harper Dennis Hobbs