London still attractive for international retailers

uK retail market

In spite of the challenging UK retail climate, London is continuing to appeal to the expansion plans of international retailers, with the number of international retailers opening debut stores in the capital increasing significantly in 2018, according to research from international real estate advisor, Savills.

The firm notes that last year, 33 international retailers opened debut individual stores in London, up 27% on 2017.  Furthermore, this growth looks set to continue throughout 2019, with three new international entrants having opened permanent stores in the first quarter of the year and a further 11 already in the committed pipeline.

Whilst European retailers made up the majority of international brands entering London last year, accounting for a 63.6% share of openings, Asia-Pacific retailers increased their share the most, representing a 15.2% share of new entrants in 2018. In addition, Savills research shows that the number of store openings from Asia- Pacific retailers increased by 400% in 2018 compared with the year before, with debut stores including Chinese retailer Urban Revivo at Westfield London and South Korea’s Gentle Monster opening on Argyll Street in Soho.

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In addition, with a number of the international brands arriving into London last year being smaller emerging retailers, Savills research shows that these retailers have taken smaller units in key fringe locations.  King’s Road saw four new concepts join the street in Chelsea last year and French online retailer Sezane opened its first permanent UK store on Westbourne Grove. Soho and fringe streets close to Bond Street have also been popular.

Marie Hickey, retail research director at Savills, comments: “Despite the challenges facing the UK retail market, London is continuing to appeal to the expansion plans of international retailers. What’s even more reassuring is its widening appeal to a greater variety of international brands and operators beyond Europe, demonstrated by the increase in Asia Pacific brands and operators opening sites in the city.  However, the boost to occupational demand is not universal across all parts of the London market with some retail pitches benefiting more than others.” 

Anthony Selwyn, head of London and international retail at Savills, comments: “London has always been seen as a vital gateway for international retailer expansion, and it’s positive to see that this outlook is continuing. With a number of exciting global retail brands having already committed to the capital this year, 2019 looks promising for international entrants into the London retail market”.