Mary Anderson-Ford is managing director of recruitment consultancy AquaRetail.
Inditex is bringing its Stradivarius concept to London, while rumours abound that US teenwear brand Aéropostale and South Korean label 8ight Seconds are on the hunt for locations in the capital. Along with J Crew’s successful foray, these moves are placing London firmly at the epicentre of global fashion retail.
The UK is increasingly seen as cool by foreign brands, particularly following the success of the 2012 Olympics, helped along by a group of stylish young royals raising the country’s profile.
The influx of new names on our high streets will force British retailers to up their game. So many businesses are already vying for space and competition will be fiercer than ever, with price points challenged and promotions maximised.
Visual merchandising will need to be even more eye-catching and marketing more inspired to keep the tills ringing. Customer service and loyalty events will be required to ensure the theatrical experience of shopping lures in the punters.
Collections will need continual newness, with more mid-season drops. The merchandising role will be critical to retailers’ success as they keep a closer eye on sales patterns to maximise opportunities.
But some advice to any business before it signs on the dotted line: London rents and rates are expensive, so test the market. Pop-up shops are the ideal vehicle.
Quality will be under heavy scrutiny - if it’s wrong at opening, you may never get that customer through the doors again - and sizing can and does vary hugely between countries, so ensure your sizes are in line with the UK market.
With a bigger retail mix than ever before, London really is the holy grail for fashion brands - and these new names will have an interesting effect on how we do things.