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Stradivarius to open first Welsh store

Inditex brand Stradivarius is set to open its first store in Wales at the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff. Securing a 5,200 square foot store on the Upper Grand Arcade, Stradivarius will be located opposite H&M.

Set to open this spring, the Stradivarius store will house its clothing, footwear and accessories for men and women.

Gareth Dougherty, real estate manager at Inditex, said: “We are delighted to bring Stradivarius to Cardiff. This will be our fifth store in the UK and the first in Wales.

“Stradivarius takes a youthful and feminine approach to fashion. It introduces new trends, designs and fabrics to its young customers and this store will embody the brand’s unique sense of style in the heart of the dynamic city of Cardiff.”

Speaking on behalf of the St David’s Partnership, a joint venture between Landsec and Intu, Colin Flinn, regional managing director - west, said: “The fashion offer at St. David’s continues to grow from strength to strength. The scheme consistently attracts leading international and home-grown brands emphasising its importance in the national retail landscape. Stradivarius is a key example of the appeal of St David’s as a high performing location within the UK.”

The news follows recent fashion openings at St David’s in 2017 by Oliver Bonas, CK Underwear, Lovisa and Kids Around, as well as the refurbished Superdry with the brand’s first dedicated Superdry Sport entrance.

Stradivarius was founded in 1994 and has established itself in more than 60 countries. The Welsh store will mark the fast-fashion brand’s fifth store in the UK, it has two in London on Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford City, as well as in The Trafford Centre in Manchester, and in Belfast.

Image: courtesy of Stradivarius

Marc Cain unveils global "green" store window concept with Seed Evolution

London - In line with its gardening theme for Spring 2018, German fashion brand Marc Cain has created a unique store window concept together with start-up Seed Evolution that highlights the importance of going "green."

Set to launch in all Marc Cain store around the globe from mid-January onwards, the store window concept brings sustainability to the forefront and center. Sustainability is also worked into the aesthetics of the window display, for example, all 17,200 flowerpots featured in the store window displays are fully biodegradable and made from coconut fibers. The flowerpots hold green plants, which together form a frame for the new spring/summer collections.

Marc Cain unveils global "green" store window concept with Seed Evolution

Shoppers will also be able to purchase plant cultivation sets in stores and Seed Evolution will donate 10 percent of the plant proceeds to the online donation platform betterplace.org. Seed Evolution, founded in 2011, sells sustainable plant and cultivation sets which are both innovative and ecologically friendly in order to help raise awareness for the future of the planet. The German start-up aims to reconcile the vision of a better planet with the innovativeness of a healthy commercial business.

Marc Cain unveils global "green" store window concept with Seed Evolution Photos: Courtesy of Marc Cain

Footlocker to open one of its largest stores in Liverpool

Athletic footwear and apparel retailer Footlocker is to open one of its largest global stores at Liverpool One, after securing a 21,000 square foot store in the city.

Located on Liverpool One’s South John Street, Footlocker have secured the unit following HMV’s decision to relocate to a new 13,000 square foot store on the street.

The new Footlocker will become one of the brand’s largest in a global portfolio of 2,500 stores and will become the latest sportswear and footwear brands to select Liverpool One, following the openings of JD and Superdry in Q4 of 2017.

Alison Clegg, director of asset management at Grosvenor Europe, which owns Liverpool One, said: “Securing Footlocker is a reflection of our strategy of providing visitors with a highly compelling and relevant offer that is unavailable elsewhere.

“Along with the new HMV, the new stores will provide on-trend, exciting offers that further strengthen Liverpool ONE’s great mix of brands.”

This signing follows a record year for Liverpool One, which recorded sales increase of 3 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, and saw its footfall exceeding 29 million for the first time.

Image: courtesy of Liverpool One

Intu Watford planned extension hits major milestone

London - Intu Watford 180 million pound extension, set to open in October, has reached a key milestone.

Set to add an additional 400,000 square feet of retail and leisure space, the new extension will place Intu Watford alongside Edinburgh and Bristol in CACI's top 20 national retail destinations, making it one of the best places to shop in the UK.

Intu Watford planned extension hits major milestone

Key representatives from Intu and contractor Laing O’Rourke gathered to mark the progress of the shopping centre extension on Thursday. A ceremonial piece of concrete was placed on the roof of the extension at the event, an age-old tradition celebrated by builders to mark the development's highest point being reached.

The shopping centre owner has signed a 9 screen IMAX Cineworld cinema and 113,000 square feet Debenhams to anchor the new extension. In addition, a Hollywood Bowl, 11 new restaurants and 13 more stores will open in the extension. "We’re bringing together the best retail and leisure brands for intu Watford’s affluent customer base," commented Rebecca Ryman, regional managing director at Intu.

"Our plans will establish the centre both as a daytime and evening destination and drive what is already a busy and prosperous local economy, with 38 million visitors to Watford high street every year and 83 percent of our customers drawn from the most affluent ABC1 socio-economic group."

Intu Watford planned extension hits major milestone

More than 7,000 pieces of steel, equal to 326 double-decker buses have been used during the 129-week programme, which began in March 2016. 13,500 cubic meters of concrete has been laid, which is equal to the volume of five Olympic sized swimming pools.

“Having only started on-site in the middle of 2016, it’s great to see the progress made by the team in reaching this key milestone," added Liam Cummins, Laing O’Rourke’s head of UK building. "We continue to develop our partnership with Intu and are committed to innovative engineering in the retail sector. We look forward to the final phase of this transformational project in the coming months."

Photos: Courtesy of Intu

London - Sir Philp Green’s Arcadia Group is implementing a 2 percent discount on all orders in place and future orders from its suppliers from next month onwards to “remain competitive in the global market.”

The retail company, which owns high street brands such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, reportedly told suppliers that it would pay 2 percent less on existing and future orders from February 1 to help save the company millions. Arcadia’s CEO Ian Grabiner linked the cost-cutting measures to recent changes in the retail market. In a letter sent to suppliers, Grabiner said the retail group had already “absorbed significant costs in technology, distribution and people” and hoped suppliers would “continue to support” them, according to various media reports.

Arcadia has confirmed the move. “We recently asked our suppliers for a small increase in our discount terms. The cost of servicing and delivering to our customers through new channels is considerably higher than through the traditional retail marketplace.This has resulted in major investment in our infrastructure in terms of systems and distribution as well as a large headcount increase. These substantial developments to our business will mutually benefit our suppliers.”

The cost-cutting measure comes after a flurry of weak sales across Arcadia’s brands, which saw total profits fall 79 percent in 2016 following the fall of BHS and its ongoing pension scandal.

UK shopping centres to open an additional 1.5 million sq ft in 2018

Although the retail sector faces a number of challenges, such as an uncertain consumer backdrop, rising operational costs and the ongoing growth of e-commerce, that has yet to stop UK retailers and property developments from investing in traditional brick and mortar locations as the UK is set to welcome 1.5 million square feet of additional shopping centre floor space throughout 2018.

Most of the additional retail space set to open in 2018 stems from extensions to existing schemes, such as the Westfield London extension, Intu’s Watford extension, and the Intu Lakeside extension, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. The shopping centre expansion push comes as high streets across the country continue to struggle to attract shoppers, as property developers invest in creating retail and leisure attractions within some of the UK’s largest shopping centres.

UK shopping centres to open an additional 1.5 million sq ft in 2018

UK shopping centres continue to thrive in 2018, opening 1.5 million square feet of new retail space

Last year saw an additional 1.3 million square feet of retail space opening, which is significantly less than the long-term average annual rate. However, 2017 did see the opening of two major new retail schemes in the UK, Westgate Oxford, and Lexicon Bracknell, added the Cushman & Wakefield report. Extensions to Westfield London, Intu Watford, and Intu Lakeside are scheduled to complete this year, while the long-awaited extension at Brent Cross is set to begin, along with the redevelopment of Intu Broadmarsh in Nottingham during the first half of the year.

New retail developments are set to be driven by leisure experiences in the future, as landlords seek out new ways to entice shoppers to their developments, noted the report. Key examples include Kidzania, an indoor area for children at Westfield London, Junk Yard crazy golf at Westgate Oxford and a potential trampoline park and climbing wall at Festival Place, Basingstoke. “Leisure is a current focus but we expect much more varied mix of uses being part of all development and this will be critical to creating successful places,” commented John Percy, Head of Retail Development Consultancy at Cushman & Wakefield.

“Landlords are quickly adapting to market trends and engaging with an increasing number of ‘experience’ led operators in order to entice shoppers offline and into their developments. Activity at some of the UK’s best-known shopping centres, including Westfield London, Brent Cross and Intu Lakeside make this an extremely interesting year in development terms.” Other shopping centre trends highlighted in the report include flexible leasing, more involvement from the local authorities to boost investment and the merging of public spaces to create new combinations of retail and leisure alongside residential and office spaces.

“There are a number of exciting shopping centre developments planned for 2018, almost all of which involve extensions or refurbishments of existing schemes,” added Amy Gibson, Senior Research Analyst at Cushman & Wakefield. “This is an indication of the continued commitment from landlords to evolve schemes in line with global trends.”

Photo: Courtesy of Westfield

Affluent shoppers are price sensitive and discount driven, survey says

London - Affluent consumers are becoming increasingly price sensitive and more inclined to visit online discount retailers than before.

According to a survey by First Insight, a company offering retail solutions, shoppers with an income over 100,000 US dollars are as likely to do comparative shopping as those who are less wealthy, using mobile technology to compare prices.

The survey found 42 percent of affluent shoppers now frequently shop at discount retailers versus only 27 percent at full price retailers, with 36 percent saying their discount shopping has increased. Twenty-one percent of affluent respondents also reported they were more inclined to visit online discount retailers, compared to only 12 percent of overall respondents.

Results of the survey, which queried 1,000 participants in the U.S. on their shopping habits, purchase behavior and influences driving purchase decisions indicate that industry disruptors are impacting the behavior of affluent consumers and changing the way they make purchase decisions,“ said Greg Petro, CEO and founder of First Insight. “A growing number of affluent consumers shopping at discount retailers over full priced retailers is an important finding, as it indicates they have already become more price sensitive. It is more critical than ever that retailers and brands offer differentiated products at the right price in order to attract the informed, affluent shopper on the hunt for deals both in-store and online.”

Amazon is a benchmark for comparative shopping

According to the findings, a vast majority of affluent consumers (74 percent) check Amazon.com for products and pricing before looking elsewhere, versus 60 percent of overall consumers. This is likely driven by the affluent shopper’s view that product pricing online is better. Half of affluent respondents felt that prices of products in physical retail stores are increasing, while slightly less (46 percent) felt online retail stores’ pricing was increasing.

Of note, while 61 percent of affluent respondents said their number of Amazon purchases increased in the past year, 80 percent said they were unwilling to pay more for two-day shipping, underscoring growing sensitivity to prices.

Affluent shoppers are also much more likely to price compare using mobile devices while at full-priced retail stores. According to the study, 44 percent of affluent respondents (compared to 38 percent overall) are more likely to price compare at full priced retail stores, while only 19 percent are more likely to price compare at discount retailers (versus 15 percent overall).

Favorite discount retailers include TJ Maxx (30 percent), Marshalls (28 percent) and HomeGoods (23 percent).

39 percent of affluent shoppers are using their mobile devices to price compare while in-store, compared to only 26 percent overall, and the need is growing. The result of the study indicated that more than half (52 percent) of affluent respondents noted that their need to price compare while physically in-store is increasing, versus 46 percent overall.

While the affluent are price checking in-store, the survey found that the two most important factors that would make them want to shop in a physical store versus buying online are being able to see and touch the product (36 percent) and being able to take a product home (26 percent). Price promotions and coupon availability were important to only 10 percent of affluent respondents, and only 12 percent said they felt they’d find better prices in-store, compared to 17 percent overall.

First Insight’s findings are based on a targeted sample of 1,000 respondents. The survey was fielded in December of 2017, and was completed through proprietary sample sources amongst panels who participate in online surveys.

First Insight is a leading provider of solutions empowering retailers and brands to incorporate the voice of the consumer into the design and merchandising of new products.

Photo credit: First Insight

Fast Retailing to launch Uniqlo in Sweden

Uniqlo has plans to go full-speed ahead by opening a new store in Sweden, a move that would put them in rival H&M's home market. The brand plans to launch its first store in Stockholm this fall. This would mark Uniqlo's entrance into the Nordic market.

Uniqlo is famous for its Heat Tech technology, which will have excellent appeal to consumers in the colder Nordic market. Although Uniqlo has gained huge popularity in the East Asian and American markets, in all of Europe they only have 70 stores. In their 2016 annual report, Fast Retailing's CEO Tadashi Yanai outlined expanding Uniqlo's international growth as one of their top priorities for 2017.

Although the company's report for 2017 isn't out yet, they made great strides with their new LifeWear category and saw strong market growth in Japan. While we are living in an era of online shopping, according to the 2016 report, only 5 percent of Uniqlo's sales came from online. The move to open brick-and-mortar in Sweden is a smart one until their online sales catch up with their in-store sales.

photo: via Uniqlo Facebook page
Westfield London gears up expansion opening with job fair

London - UK shopping centre Westfield London is set to host a two-day job fair to help new brands opening under its Shepherd's Bush extension find the right candidates.

Taking place from January 30 to 31, the event will share information on new roles at retailers such as Primark, Adidas, Bo Concept as well as Bravissimo, seeking to the fill the up to 8,000 new roles.

The job fair comes a few months before the opening of Westfield's 600 million pound expansion this March. Westfield London's new expansion is set to create an additional 740,000 square feet of retail, dining and leisure space, boosting the total number of stores to 450, making it the largest shopping centre in Europe.

"We are looking forward to welcoming all who are interested in employment and training to our Westfield Job Show, where they can find out about the thousands of exciting opportunities available in retail, customer service and hospitality at Westfield London," commented Duncan Bower, director of development at Westfield.

"As a wider employment and training group, with Hammersmith & Fulham Council and together local colleges, we have done a great deal to help inform and prepare the local community for these jobs and now, with the launch of the expansion just over two months away, we encourage local residents to head along to the Job Show to apply."

Since its opening its doors to the public in 2008, Westfield London has created over 12,000 new jobs, either as a direct employer or through its growing list of retail tenants.

Photo: Westfield London

Primark to open 46,000 square foot Bluewater store

Budget fashion and lifestyle retailer Primark has signed a lease for 60,000 square foot of space at Bluewater in Kent, which will feature a sales area of more than 46,000 square foot.

Due to open in 2019 on Bluewater’s Thames Walk, Primark will offer women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, including footwear, and accessories such as lingerie, as well as beauty and homeware.

The move comes following insight gathered from the Bluewater’s SMG guest feedback programme, which highlighted Primark as a consistently requested retailer by a large number of Bluewater’s guests, alongside premium, luxury and international brands.

Russell Loveland, portfolio director at Landsec, co-owner and asset manager of Bluewater, said: “We are always looking for ways to enhance our offer, from securing new premium brands to ensuring we provide the very best of affordable fashion. By providing a comprehensive, relevant and engaging offer, from brands to experiences, we ensure Bluewater remains the number one destination.”

Primark to open 46,000 square foot Bluewater store

The signing of Primark follows openings by Kate Spade, Coach, Godiva, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Smashbox, Lindt and GraVity at Bluewater in the last 12 months. In addition, Showcase added four new screens to its Cinema de Lux and The White Company upsized to create its new statement store on Bluewater’s lower Guildhall.

Primark operates more than 350 stores in eleven countries: Republic of Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, the US and Italy; and has over 73,000 employees.

Images: courtesy of Primark