Fashion retailers are likely to make up the bulk of the companies brought to the UK by property firm Land Securities’ new retail offshoot.
The new vehicle, named Brand Empire, has signed non-disclosure agreements with 10 fashion, footwear and cosmetics retailers not yet in the UK retail market, and hopes to tie-up the first deals within months.
This week, Sanjay Sharma, former international director for womenswear chain Karen Millen, joined as chief executive of the new venture. The retailers will sign an affiliate agreement with Brand Empire, where Brand Empire operates the UK retail business and the brand receives a royalty fee – in many respects like a traditional franchise agreement, although with Brand Empire having more involvement in managing the stock.
“We’re taking a huge amount of the risk away from the brands,” said Sharma, who added that his operational expertise would be key. “In the UK you need to achieve some of the highest densities per square foot in the world to be profitable.”
Land Securities commercial director Ronan Faherty said the initiative was prompted by research among UK shoppers to identify the brands they most wanted to see. International brands came out strongly.
However, he sought to reassure other retailers in Land Securities’ centres that Brand Empire’s partners wouldn’t get preferential treatment. The companies won’t only take space in Land Securities’ centres and Faherty said he had already met with rival landlords to explain the project.