BCSC 2011: Retail goes under the spotlight

By Helen Roxburgh - Thursday, September 22, 2011 9:47

The UK retail industry has “too much of the wrong type of space”, according to leading figures in the sector speaking at the BCSC conference this week.

The annual event in Manchester closed yesterday, after three days of the great and good of retail meeting to discuss the future of the beleagured sector.

The overwhelming themes included the need to address vacant space in the UK while meeting demands from retailers – some of whom have aggressive expansion plans despite the downturn. 

The number of delegates was up on last year, with just under 2,600 attending, and an increase in the number registering on the first day too, with 1,600 delegates arriving for meetings on Monday.

CoStar News spoke to leading retail figures on the issue of obsolete space in the UK, and how retail landlords should be responding, including Richard Akers from Land Securities, Myles White from Henderson Global Investors, Guy Grainger from Jones Lang LaSalle, David Kenningham of CB Richard Ellis and directors at occupiers including Sainsbury’s and ASDA. Watch the video for a full report of the conference.

 

The shopping centre body used the event to lobby for a developer-led TIF model to unlock retail development, with support from developers including Hammerson, Land Securities, Westfield and Lend Lease.

Hammeron’s development director Mike McGuinness said in the closing panel session: “Lf there is one thing the public sector can do it’s support the process of TIF. The risk is entirely with the developer.”

The retail market is at a “cross road”, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, which launched its new biannual overview Retail Spotlight report at the event.

The report said that the industry needs to address the problem of “obsolescent space” and take up new business models including closer work with local authorities to manage town centres.

According to JLL, the right space for retailers will be characterised by optimum sizing and configuration, in locations that have critical mass, destination appeal and stronger than average fundamentals such as high footfall and resilient consumer spending.

Delegates at the conference were in agreement that there is still substantial demand into the UK – London specifically – from international retailers and that this is further aggravating the polarisation of the UK retail sector.

JLL warned that in some regional towns retail vacancy rates could reach 40% and that in some cases the only option will be to demolish space and turn to a different use class.

hroxburgh@costar.co.uk

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