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Editor's Comment: A tour of London showcases retail greats

Keely Stocker

This week for me began with a walking tour around central London. Thanks to my tour guides from commercial property advisor CBRE, myself and my colleagues strolled through Mayfair, Soho and Covent Garden looking at the latest retail developments and discussing the changes that are due to take place over the next few years.

There are plans for many streets to become partially or fully pedestrianised and “opened up” to allow consumers to move seamlessly from one area to another.

The introduction of Crossrail will also have a huge impact. Consultancy firm Arup predicts that 110 million people a year will pass through the Tottenham Court Road station by the time Crossrail is finished. That level of footfall brings huge potential to the area and Steve Stedman, head of central London agency at CBRE, said this is already having an impact on retail values, which have gone up between 40% and 50%.

Not only was it good to take the time to observe the changes – rather than rushing through crowds while checking emails and Google Mapping my next meeting place – it was a chance to rediscover some of the capital’s great retail locations. From the imposing flagships on Regent Street through the quirky independent-filled streets of Soho and on to younger retail locations off Covent Garden, it was a reminder of the diversity of both central London and the retail offer available to consumers.

Over the last three to five years, Covent Garden, which has been described as a “grown-up Shoreditch”, has been transformed to bring in a whole new demographic. Its 42 million visitors a year can shop at Apple and Kurt Geiger, and Burberry, Chanel and Dior’s cosmetic offerings. The 51% who are male are likely to enjoy Henrietta Street’s menswear line-up, which includes Fred Perry, Oliver Sweeney and Edwin, and is soon to be joined by Club Monaco.

Harrods has a pop-up beneath the Royal Opera House. And, nearby, a development strategy is under way for Floral Street to have a more premium and luxury offering.

It will be interesting to see the developments in this area over the next few years and how the UK capital will cement its place in shoppers’ hearts.

In our last issue of 2015, we present the annual Top 100. The entire editorial team spent hours locked away to decide who has had the biggest influence on the fashion industry this year.

I won’t reveal who is in the top slot here but one thing this list highlights – as does our review of the year – was the merry-go-round of people moves over the last 12 months. It will be interesting to see where business founders, chief executives and others that have departed will end up in 2016.

Today, in London, we are bringing together another group of impressive people for the 30 under 30 photo shoot, ready for our first issue of next year, which includes our Next Generation special. Now in its seventh year, Next Generation is a way for us, and the leaders making The Top 100 list, to inspire, educate and inform fashion retail’s next movers and shakers.

Anyone who makes either list should feel incredibly proud to be at the forefront of this dynamic, innovative and challenging industry.

Season’s greetings to you all and here’s to a successful Christmas trading period.

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