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Exclusive: London's Brexit bonanza for international retailers

Since the European Union referendum in June 2016 the number of international brands opening stores in London has increased by 17% compared with the preceding two years, new research has shown.

Property services company Colliers International has found that between January 2014 and June 2016, 35 international brands opened in central London.

Between June 2016 and April 2019, 41 international brands opened stores in the same area.

Across the whole period (January 2014 to April 2019), the average retail rental increase in London was 4.7% a year. However, in 2018/19 rents stabilised and in some areas decreased.

Paul Souber, head of retail agency London and co-head EMEA retail at Colliers, said: “The stabilisation of rents is giving brands that previously couldn’t afford a London presence the opportunity to enter the market and open in the city. Meanwhile, retail tourists are able to reap sizeable discounts on luxury fashion and accessories, thanks to a reduced sterling rate.

“It is opening up the playing field to new entrants. Previously the market was too competitive, so younger newer brands struggled to get a foothold.

“The status of London as an international global city will endure, and many brands see the opportunity to take advantage of the current situation, which they feel will play out well for them in the medium-to-long term.

“Certainty around the pound devaluation and more leasing flexibility is another major advantage.”

Colliers’ central London retail team has formed a dedicated “Brand Representation” group to serve the growing numbers of international retailers that want a presence in London. The new team will be led by Peter Flint, co-head brand representation at Colliers International, and Colliers International consultant Rob Hargreaves, who together will provide bespoke acquisition services across London and also advise on how brands can control their property costs.

Flint said: “London is a complex retail market and it is essential that brands – whether they are making their debut in the capital or expanding – get their strategy right.

“Brands are coming to us for advice because of the dual perspectives we have from advising brands such as Uniqlo, Inditex, LVMH, Jigsaw, Sweaty Betty and Ecco, as well as many of London’s big landlords. Understanding both sides of the equation is vital.”

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