In contrast to the struggling fortunes of several retailers, a growing number of car brands are opening showrooms in shopping centres – and getting great results.

Emel ahmet colliers

Brands such as SEAT, Volkswagen and Hyundai have led the way and taken space in some of the UK’s most prominent malls such as Lakeside Thurrock and Westfield London.

And just this morning, automotive giant Williams Group announced plans for a £41m flagship retail centre at Peel Land and Property’s TraffordCity development in Manchester.

These new stores are changing the way we buy cars through a heavy emphasis on interactive technology that can show customers the different configurations of the vehicle they want. Tech also offers customers the ability to test-drive a car literally there and then.

SEAT store Jodie Kidd

Model, racing car driver and television personality Jodie Kidd helped open a new 2,000 sq ft SEAT showroom at Westfield London last year

The brands will also rent a number of spaces in a centre’s car park so they can provide test drives and minor repairs. This means landlords can monetise both the store that has been let to the car brand and also a proportion of their parking facilities.

Shopping centres also provide a longer trading day, which is more in sync with people who have busy lifestyles, and makes car buying even more accessible and convenient.

From a property perspective, the leasing process involved is slightly more complex than a normal centre letting. Different agreements for each element have to be addressed.

Lettings to date have been done on long-term leases of five years or more. Obviously, turnover rents are not appropriate for this type of retailer so the lettings have been done at the relevant estimated rental value.

It can only be a matter of time – if it’s not already happening – before someone goes to a shopping centre for a pair of shoes and ends up buying a car.

Emel Ahmet, associate director, Colliers International Retail Age