London’s West End will attract new international retailers in 2015, thanks to the addition of an estimated 3 million sq ft of retail and leisure space in the next two years.
This includes more than 300,000 sq ft of extra space at the eastern end of Oxford Street, according to a new report from landlord Shaftesbury and business improvement districts New West End Company and Heart of London Business Alliance.
The outlook for the UK capital’s retail market is optimistic, as the city is expected to welcome about 2.5 million more international and domestic visitors this year than in 2014, according to London & Partners, which promotes the city on behalf of the mayor of London. A report from property firm Jones Long LaSalle, meanwhile, found that London is home to more international retailers than any other city in Europe.
The city is expected to outperform the UK as a whole in terms of retail sales growth, estimated at 6.8% last year against the UK average of 3.9%. More than £11bn was spent in the West End tills in 2014. Retail sales growth is forecast to slow this year yet remain robust at 4.3%.
The West End is also poised to benefit from the opening of Crossrail in 2018.
New entrants to the West End retail market last year included Victoria Beckham, Simply Be & Jacamo, Adidas Originals, SuperTrash and APC.
Rents on Regent Street reached a record level of £650 Zone A in 2014, driven by demand from international retailers looking to acquire flagship stores. Both Polo Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors have agreed pre-lets on 15,000 sq ft units at 1 New Burlington Place, which is set to complete later this year. Michael Kors will be relocating and upsizing from its existing store on Regent Street.
On Oxford Street, there are 15 developments planned between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch, while the new Crossrail station at the end of Bond Street is expected to boost footfall on that part of the street.
Carnaby Street has attracted new entrants including streetwear label Billionaire Boys Club, menswear brand Our Legacy and menswear independent Oi Polloi, while nearby Earlham Street in Seven Dials is gaining a reputation as a menswear destination with Farah Vintage and surfwear label Finisterre opening their first stores on the street.