It is very easy to be glib about the healthy state of the West End retail market; ‘it’s booming’, ‘just walk down Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon’. But where is the evidence? It can be found in JLL UK Retail’s report ‘London’s West End: Review and Outlook’. The report explores in detail the current health of the Core West End, and provides a detailed outlook for all businesses situated within the area, and as such is a must read for all with an interest in the area.
London’s Core West End is the embodiment of physical resilience in an increasingly virtual world. Firstly, the Core West End has the scale of offer, with the main shopping streets collectively forming the largest concentration of retail in Europe. It also provides unrivalled breadth of retail offer, and hosts many international retailers’ flagship stores, in addition to the world-renowned London Luxury Quarter, home to two thirds of the world’s top 100 luxury retailers. With the top-class ’beyond retail’ activities such as tourist attractions, dining, galleries and theatre, the experience of shopping in the Core West End is very difficult to replicate.
It is no surprise therefore that demand from retailers and leisure operators in the West End remains extremely healthy. Over the last 12 months, we saw an impressive list of domestic and international retail and leisure operators open in the Core West End. Aquascutum, Cath Kidston, Barbour, River Island, Sunspel, Osprey and Lyle & Scott were amongst the best of British to open new stores, whilst top European and US retailers like Celine, Fendi, Belstaff, Karl Lagerfeld, Tiger of Sweden, G Star and J Crew have all opened flagship stores. Later this year will see the eagerly anticipated openings from the likes of Victoria Beckham (Dover Street), Christopher Kane (Mount Street) and Omega (Oxford Street).
An increasing demand for space from retailers, coupled with a lack of availability on the traditionally prime streets and record rental levels on Bond, Regent and Oxford Streets, is resulting in a ‘ripple effect’, whereby previously more peripheral streets are becoming retailing destinations in their own right. Strengthening offers on Conduit Street, Dover Street and Duke Street amongst other, are effectively ‘infilling’ the area with quality retail.
Despite continued growth in rents, there appears to be no let-up in interest from retailers. New pitches and a large pipeline of developments and redevelopments should help meet some of the unsated demand. Let the good times keep rolling!
Mark Smith is JLL UK Retail’s Head of Central London Agency.
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