Our vision for retail
Our retail portfolio accounts for almost a third of our London estate’s value. It defines much of the identity of the place and it acts as a shop window into our districts in Mayfair and Belgravia… and it is changing.
We know the shopping habits of people are shifting and becoming more sociable and experience-led. And across demographics, we see a search for experience, not just products. The defining retail experience is no longer limited to purchases. It comes with a place.
We’re fortunate enough to work at the neighbourhood scale. The breadth of our ownership allows us to host and help create an experience rooted in a place - a place defined by a mix of shopping, food, leisure, culture and wellbeing. And we’re blessed with some of the most beautiful buildings and public spaces in the world. Our rich heritage and architecturally beautiful assets are primed for ‘Instagrammable’ moments to capture and share.
But we want to do more. Over the next 20 years, we want our London estate to be more active, more open and more integrated - a more popular place for more people. We want a bigger, better and wider blend of retail - from amenities to luxury, enterprise to leisure - for workers, residents and visitors. We want to grow and sustain better destinations in the heart of the West End.
We’re starting now within a challenging market. We signed 45 new retail and commercial tenants in 2017: food, fashion, gyms, lifestyle, and restaurant operators; all strong, brands, the majority independent, each seeking in many cases their first physical presence in London. The estate is adapting and increasingly giving a platform to tenants who can respond to, and predict, shifting trends. So we’ll continue to invest in the best streetscapes, an evolving mix of the best uses, and a flexible, responsive portfolio that builds on the success of our places.
The context is change
We have little choice. The retail industry has seen rapid change in recent years, with changing consumer habits, globalisation, the rise in new technologies, demographic shifts and changing social attitudes towards consumption.
We are responding to that change in many ways, but perhaps above all by creating retail districts that are integrated, with each other and with London; districts that are supported by amenities, public and green spaces and better infrastructure.
So for example, on previously derelict and underused land on the boundaries of Victoria and Belgravia, we are creating a new hub for creative enterprise and co-working around a new public square. Featuring 19 units for food, fashion, co-working and wellbeing, Eccleston Yards will be a destination that can champion and introduce new and innovative brands. We will establish a community of like-minded businesses and a mix of offers for workers and visitors.
We have secured for Eccleston Yards, amongst others, Barry's Bootcamp. The stylish fitness studio is a powerful, global brand with a vast international following which will attract regular users to this currently underutilised part of London. And we have signed co-working provider, Central Working - the UK-wide network of shared workspaces that supports more than 3,500 businesses of all sizes. Central Working Victoria will help anchor this new hub of enterprise and innovation.
In Belgravia, we have pedestrianised Motcomb Street, creating a world-class public space and installed the UK’s first open access ultra-fast broadband network alongside free public WiFi. With the imminent opening of the Pantechnicon - the refurbishment of a beautiful Grade II Listed building into a contemporary fashion emporium that includes a café, restaurant and bar - Motcomb Street is growing its appeal as home to a mix of luxury fashion, food, and beauty brands.
And in Mayfair, we’re reinvigorating South Molton Street, just off Oxford Street and a few steps from Bond Street, to revive its status as one of London’s most successful retail streets. With the signing of globally-recognised retailer Hill and Friends, we confirmed our intention. For this cutting-edge brand to choose South Molton Street for its first physical store underlines Mayfair’s ability to adapt. We have since signed T.ba, Empriente and Sezane.
So we’ll continue to expand
A growing tenant mix is demonstrating our London estate can adapt and work harder for Londoners and visitors. Our 20 year vision is for an estate at the forefront of retailing trends, fully integrated with streets hosting places to visit, dine, drink, shop and relax.
In many ways, our retail and commercial signings are the most visible signs that the estate is evolving and that we’re delivering that vision at the heart of the capital.