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Building for the future

Ahead of next week’s BCSC Conference, we examine the impact of international retailers on UK store rents and meet John Lewis’s property director.

There has perhaps never been a more critical time for the retail property industry. A raft of high-profile administrations have taken place since January, and retailers are ditching their worst-performing stores. Meanwhile, out-of-town and prime regional shopping centres continue to sap the fortunes of traditional high streets and the Government asked Mary Portas for her verdict on what needs to be done in the form of the Portas Review.

With this in mind and ahead of the property trade show British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) Conference & Exhibition next week, which runs from September 10 to 12, Drapers has decided to address some of the issues with our first Property Focus.

We explore some of the crucial issues affecting the retail property sector right now, including the pressure being exerted on rents by international retailers, which are often willing to pay top dollar for prime locations in central London, consequently setting rental benchmarks and in some cases forcing home-grown retailers out of the best locations altogether.

We also take a look at John Lewis, which is bucking the trend for closing stores by opening new ones under its John Lewis at Home and Flexible Format fascias. Its property director Jeremy Collins tells us his views on the challenges facing the UK retail property industry and his plans for the department store chain’s property portfolio.

Next week, the challenges facing the industry will come to the fore when the UK’s largest gathering of retail property professionals converges on the ACC Liverpool exhibition centre for the BCSC Conference & Exhibition, where retailers, owners, developers, investors and shopping centre owners will meet to discuss the issues facing their own businesses, identify opportunities, and make property deals.

With a series of seminars running across the two-day event, keynote speakers will include Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, and Portas herself. 

There’s no doubt the current economic climate is amplifying the trends happening within the retail property sector, and with online and mobile changing the way consumers shop, it’s never been more essential for retailers to adapt for the future.

We asked some of the retail property directors attending this year’s BCSC Conference & Exhibition what they are hoping to get out of the show

Nigel Keen, Group property director, JD Sports Fashion

“I find it one of the best times to discuss opportunities for new business and review ongoing transactions. You can compare notes with other property professionals active within the retail environment. In addition, there is always a good selection of topical issues discussed by top-quality speakers and during the seminar sessions.”

Linsay Miller, Estates manager, Schuh

“We always look forward to attending the BCSC showcase as it gives us an opportunity to talk in a focused manner to landlords and retail agents about new developments and new opportunities for our business in future years.”

Robert Morray, Property planning manager, Marks & Spencer

“BCSC is the key retail conference of the year for us. It’s a really good opportunity to meet with landlords, developers and property funds and discuss the world of retail property. We’re expecting a packed event in Liverpool this year and have a host of meetings, briefings and events to get through.”

Special BCSC offer

  • Subscribe and save £99!

*Limited offer for attendees to BCSC, September 10 to 12. Save £99 off Drapers’ annual subscription at

0844 848 8859 and quote priority code DWXZ

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