UK remains a target for world’s retailers

By Andrea Felsted, Retail Correspondent

Published: November 15 2010 01:59 | Last updated: November 15 2010 01:59

The UK is set to remain a target market for overseas retailers, as store groups ramp up their expansion plans in Europe, the Middle East and Africa amid increasing confidence, according to a property consultancy.

CB Richard Ellis (an investment management company, also known as CBRE) said confidence had returned to retailers in the EMEA region, with more groups intending to extend their store networks next year.

It found that 77 per cent of the retailers surveyed were planning to open more than five stores in the EMEA region by the end of next year. This is a significant increase from 12 months ago, when half of the retailers intended to open less than five stores this year.

More than half of the retailers surveyed intended to open between one and 20 stores, with the average at about 30 stores.

“Intentions are much greater for 2011 than they were for 2010,” said Peter Gold, head of cross-border retail, EMEA, at CBRE.

The supermarket sector is set to be the most active, followed by coffee and restaurant chains, as well as the value and denim fashion sector.

CBRE found that 28 per cent of mid-range fashion retailers are aiming to open 30 or more stores in 2011, higher than the 16 per cent reported a year earlier.

Germany is the most popular country for expansion given its populous cities. Retailers are also eyeing Poland, France and Spain, where property is more affordable.

The UK is the fifth most popular market, with 29 per cent of the retailers surveyed targeting the country.

A number of overseas retailers, including Coach, the US handbag and accessories retailer, Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie chain, and young fashion groups Forever 21, and Vero Moda are expanding in the UK.

Mr Gold said overseas retailers used the UK as a “stepping stone to broader international [expansion]”. A presence in the UK also provided retailers with “international credibility”. “Everyone has a plan for the UK,” he added.

However, retailers are also eyeing emerging EMEA markets, which accounted for more than half of the top 20 target cities.

CBRE found that retailers preferred to consolidate and expand into new cities in countries where they already have a presence, instead of entering new markets.