In the past few days we have seen Boohoo purchase the Debenhams brand and today it has been announced that Asos have purchased Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT from Arcadia Group. Neither of these deals include the actual stores, save with the exception of the flagship Topshop unit on Oxford Street.
Landlords can only despair at the news which will see the closure of stores leaving further holes in the British high street. Topshop alone had some 70 stores nationwide.
The pandemic has exacerbated a trend towards greater online sales but fundamentally consumers still do like to see and browse products before purchase. Repurposing of some stores will be essential as the voids left by these larger retailers are unlikely to ever be entirely filled. However those stores in key locations with forward thinking landlords will still attract future (possibly post pandemic) tenants. Investment in technology and a movement away from the traditional rack rent leasing models will be essential to survival.
This country is well known for innovation and whilst the current situation for retailers (and their staff) is fairly dire one can only hope that a recovery will come. The precise form of such is yet to be determined but the Great British high street will emerge, fundamentally different, but hopefully with more unique shops, integrated technology and a sustainable outlook.