‘Beyond Retail’: London Luxury Quarter outperforms

Luxury retailing has weathered the recession particularly well; and luxury retailing within Central London’s real estate doubly so. At the forefront of this outperformance is The London Luxury Quarter, which is a magnet for international luxury brands, with more than two thirds of the world’s Top 100 Luxury Brands located within the 57 streets and arcades of The Quarter. However, it is the depth and choice of offer that extends beyond traditional retailing that really distinguishes The Quarter from any other luxury destination in the world, as we explore in our new report, ‘Hospitality & Service: Driving Business Investments through a Thriving Luxury Destination.’ From the world class hotels, to Michelin starred restaurants, to the historic and prestigious private members clubs, The Quarter’s unique DNA is instrumental to its success.
As we explore in our current global research project, ‘Redefining Retail Places’, consumers and visitors to any location not only want to be able to access the ‘latest and greatest’, but they also want to escape and retrench as and when they choose. The ability to choose to ‘opt in’ and participate in the retail experience, or ‘opt out’, has become a key feature of successful places and spaces.

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A key aspect of this ability to ‘escape and retrench’ is clearly the restaurant offer within a retail place. Whilst several new restaurants have opened within the LLQ in recent months, including Angela Harnett at St James’s and Simon Rogan’s Fera at Claridge’s, Roka on North Audley Street, there remains latent demand for further quality restaurant space from visitors and businesses alike within the LLQ. In fact there is an under provision of food and beverage space within Mayfair generally. A relaxation in property planning regulations, expediting change of use to A3 would help ease the tension, albeit there is also a challenge across the Quarter around ownership. Whilst the LLQ landlords such as The Crown Estate and Grosvenor readily acknowledge the huge importance of strong food and beverage offer on their estates, individual landlords will invariably strive to extract the best rent for a property, which will typically be from a retail use rather than a restaurant.

So while it is clear that the LLQ is thriving, and remains a powerful magnet for all types of visitors, be they tourists, shoppers, businesses, investors or residents, it is vital that the balance between different uses and users be continually and subtly improved, in order for The Quarter to remain a compelling and sought after destination.

Mark Smith is JLL UK Retail’s Head of Central London Agency

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