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Former New Look boss Wrigley sounds death knell of high street

The former boss of New Look, Phil Wrigley, has sounded the death knell of the traditional high street, and described Mary Portas’s review as the “right diagnosis, wrong prescription”.

Wrigley - who in his time as chief executive doubled the number of New Look stores, many of which are in town centres – believes that high streets would be best used for residential developments rather than shops.

He said the traditional high street model is “almost completely moribund” and warned: “It is irrelevant to the needs of shoppers today, let alone tomorrow”.

In a speech at Oxford University, Wrigley, now chairman of Majestic Wine, said parking fees, out-of-town centres and the growth of online meant traditional high streets were in the middle of a “real, genuine and irreversible crisis”.

“I believe passionately in retail and I believe passionately in high streets. I just think their marriage is over and it’s time for them to go their separate ways,” he said.

He maintained: “Unlike Ms Portas, I don’t think we can continue to try to muddle through supporting the traditional high street model.”

He forecast that by 2025 there will be fewer, more dominant retailers with fewer, larger stores on the edge of towns.

Wrigley proposed changing planning laws to make it easier to re-class former retail premises for residential development.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Mr Wrigley may well be right on the subject of the traditional High Street, albeit sadly, with Mass Multiples such as New Look partly responsible with their dominance of city centres, but I do believe that the small boutique and niche independent market in smaller towns and local high streets is fighting back. I believe that discerning shoppers are eschewing the High Street for these specialised stores offering something different from the Mass Multiples. And let's hope they win the fight.

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  • Unlike Mr Wrigley i believe there is going to be big potential for the UK High Street in the coming years. It's exactly the type of retailers that Mr Wrigley has worked for that has made the High Street "irrrelevant" with saturation strategy and hunger for more growth/profit they have pushed up rents in virtually every High Street across the country squeezing the Indies out, the very people that made many of these towns so attractive in the first place. A shadow of their former selves these towns have now become sterile, walk down any High Street in the UK you could be in anywhere.
    Hope for the Indie is on the horizon, it appears that the multiples are cutting retail costs, closing down stores and now obessing on the web sales and by oversea's expansion. Lets hope we now see rents fall and landlords look to bring the High Streets of the UK back to what they once were and not the sterile enviroment they have become. This country has 1000's of very innovative people bursting with ideas that in recent years have been confined to the Net, i believe we will at last start to see some of these people venture out of the backwaters of Web based sales and re-invigorate the High Street when rents come down to sensible more sustainable levels. The High Street will die if we don't offer choice, saturation by the Multiples doesn't offer choice, just convience which has now been replaced by on-line sales, rise up the Indie, once again your time is coming !

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  • i agree with the comments above, why would anyone feel the need to pay £5.00 to park and see the same old shops that can be found in most cities in the uk ? if there can be more independants and incentives for new talents to start business , im sure it will create interest.

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