Research article

Curating retail and leisure: Meet the experts

Leading figures describe how rethinking their approach to retail has worked for them

Anna Strongman, Partner, Argent LLP

At King’s Cross, retail was always going to be fundamental in creating a place and making it feel like part of the city from the start. Places have different feels and attract different audiences – and this dictated the kind of retail in each space. For example, the open space at Granary Square has become a popular meeting place so has evolved to have more food and beverage.

We felt it was important to have both a mix of familiar and accessible brands as well as less well-known ones. We’ve also seen high demand for service retail, such as beauty, particularly as the younger demographic shifts their focus towards experiences.

Emma Cariaga, Head of Operations, Canada Water, British Land

Retail is changing and retailers’ need for space will naturally evolve. Our job for the retail element at Canada Water is to create spaces that people who live and work there and elsewhere will want to visit, and to make space much more affordable for retailers. Generating sustainable returns in a fast-changing environment is challenging, but perhaps how you do that is by having a greater intensity of use in the same space.

That could mean spaces that can be occupied by different tenants at different times of day. We can make a reasonable return out of it as landlords and owners, but there’s less of an upfront commitment from the retailers and restaurateurs because they’re only renting the space for six hours or half the day.

Alistair Shaw, Managing Director, Television Centre, Stanhope

The ambition at Television Centre was to integrate the restaurants/retail to bring vitality and amenity to the area. Retailers were deliberately identified to be independent partners who promoted inclusivity and accessibility for consumers at a range of price points and to involve themselves in our event strategy. Opening the retail before final practical completion meant initial trading was slow. But the value in placemaking and, therefore, residential and commercial demand, has outweighed this.

Rajdeep Gahir, Co-founder and CEO, Vivahouse

Vivahouse aims to repurpose under-utilised commercial space into residential homes. Using the existing fabric of the retail space and pre-fabricated construction methods means it is low cost to build, but high yielding for landlords. This has created the ability to add new homes at a price in London where demand from the urban tenant is high. This could be replicated in other cities.

Sean Ellis, Chairman, St James, St William & Berkeley Homes Eastern Counties

We are all about placemaking at Berkeley and retail is an important part of our approach. We look to balance the commercial terms that we are trying to achieve with the long-term benefits and value each occupier could bring to the local community. Our priority is getting the uses that our residents need and value most into the early stages of the scheme. We are constantly evolving our thinking to try to stay ahead of the changing nature of what tenants are looking for. Increasingly, we are offering flexible terms to occupiers in order to create that initial place– not just for residents but also to make it a destination.

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