You read the papers and you watch the news, so you know that it’s a tricky time for retail. Some of the coverage has been rather dramatic: talk of the death of the high street, fraying contracts, and even hell!
If that were true, this would be a really rough week at Revo. But it’s far from the full story. In fairness, the press picture is often more nuanced, especially from the trade press who deal with the sector daily. It’s just that your brain is more attuned to remembering the scary and apocalyptic, and sensible sub-editors make sure that headlines play right into that.
In truth, there is a lot going on down at the shops. Companies are investing, developers are developing, and the retail market is becoming more diverse as canny investors react to the challenges they face. We see this every day from our fantastic clients, who are working hard to make sure shoppers continue to get what they need, what they want, and what they haven’t even imagined yet!
Developers continue to spend money to create and extend retail destinations of all shapes and sizes. intu are spending £75 million to transform intu Trafford Centre’s Barton Square, and developing a £180 million retail and leisure extension to intu Watford. From Queensberry’s Tunsgate Quarter to the Cornhill Quarter in Lincoln, there are the will and the way for more and better shops. It isn’t just the private sector, either: Cherwell District Council recently bought Banbury’s Castle Quay to ensure that they can drive the redevelopment of the town centre.
The sector is bubbling with creativity: retail owners carefully curating the old and the new alike, bringing places alive by mixing the best of what is there with the promise of the new. We see this from whole developments – like Edinburgh St James or Islington Square, where beautiful new homes and shops nestle in an historic setting – to the scale of individual buildings and retail units, where imaginative property teams find new uses for old spaces. At The Lobby, in Stockholm, AMF Fastigheter have made what could so easily have been leftover space into an innovative laboratory for creative brands to test the future of retail. Hull’s Princes Quay shows that traditional retail models can be reimagined and combined to create a unique point of difference. Whether through local passion or the industry of clear-thinking retailers, the challenges can be met.
There is no denying that the retail sector faces challenges as part of a wider realignment, but that reflects the economy as a whole: these same questions face sector after sector. Bad news slots comfortably into an existing narrative, but that narrative makes people all the more willing to hear the good news that is certainly out there too. There is an appetite for stories about success. At Redwood, we work with some of the most active names in the property sector, to make sure their good work gets the attention it deserves. We’re proud to work with our clients to make those stories heard, and we’re looking forward to hearing about even more of them at Revo this week.