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UK retail split over bricks & mortar property strategy

The UK retail sector is split in a three way divide over what to do with bricks and mortar property, according to a report from law firm Foot Anstey.

Despite news of store closures and Company Voluntary Agreements, a surprising two thirds of senior retail sector leaders plan to either invest in new property or develop their property portfolio. Just one third plan to close stores.

And of that one third looking to downsize, just 12% are blaming the rise of eCommerce.

The findings are detailed in the Foot Anstey Retail Report 2018: Property based on an in-depth survey of senior leaders in the UK retail sector.

Foot Anstey’s Head of Retail, Patrick Howarth, said: “It’s fair to say we were not expecting this result to come back. Anyone following retail news would be certain the story would be of restructure.

“That two thirds are looking to grow their portfolio or develop it is perhaps a reflection of something we spotted in the last report – retailers believe shopper experience is the most important factor, even more than price.

“Perhaps most importantly, there’s a reassuring resilience to the sector. It clearly believes in remaining a profitable, physical presence in our lives.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 42% find break clauses and subletting legal obstacles to reshaping a portfolio
  • Robots in customer service got the biggest negative response for any tech innovation
  • Almost half think delivery drones will become significant

This is the second Foot Anstey Retail Report 2018. The first, People, was issued in June. The third, Brand will be issued later in the year.