Former Focus and Wickes boss Bill Grimsey has warned that secondary retail parks are destined to go the same way as the high street and become ghost towns.
Grimsey, who has this week published a book on his retail career and the future of the high street, said the seismic change affecting retail and society more widely is not over.
He said: “The demise of the high street is only the tip of the iceberg when B-grade shopping parks become tumbleweed parks as there’s a shift towards malls like Trafford and Westfield, the impact of the net and a changing consumer.”
Grimsey, who also formerly ran Iceland and was a Tesco director, was unconvinced that Portas Pilot initiatives would revive troubled high streets.
He said: “A lot of Mary Portas [ideas] are very good but a lot is a waste of time and money. The attempt to go back in time with markets, pop-ups – it’s merely fluff.”
He believes that the future of high streets is a “community issue” and in his book, Sold Out – who killed the high street? argues that a new view is essential.
He said: “The high street is the obvious place to Focus on all the things that can’t be done online and any future plans should consider prioritising initiatives which involve the body or the social self.
“This means restaurants, cafes, pedestrianised meeting areas, art galleries or advice centres. Anything in fact that will entice people out of their homes and encourage them to interact with one another and enjoy each other’s company in a mutually fulfilling way.”