Many of the best brains connected with the retail sector – brands, landlords, agents and advisers – will gather for the Property Week seminar on Thursday 2 May at Boxpark Wembley. Currently, the sector is going through a major evolution. Indeed, the national media is, seemingly, filled with stories of collapsing retailers, CVAs, restructurings and more, creating a perception of unrelenting doom and gloom. The event will be an opportunity to hear about schemes that are bucking the trend. It is being held in the right location since Quintain is incorporating so much new thinking into developing a new premier neighbourhood for north London.
To help with our thoughts on the retail and leisure across the 85-acre redevelopment, we commissioned an international study from Harrison:Fraser, the strategic brand consultancy, to benchmark pioneering projects around the world. The goal was to spotlight better and different schemes in other nations. More than 20 districts were considered. From a new sustainable neighbourhood at HafenCity, Hamburg, to broad, open boulevards and rooftop bars at Santana Row, San José, and retail in an urban park scheme at Parc Central, Guangzhou, China.
The overriding goal was to include a contemporary retail and leisure offer at Wembley Park in tune with the area’s strong cultural heritage, since this is where some of the world’s greatest musicians, entertainers and sportspeople have performed and played. Based on the resulting plans, Harrison:Fraser partner David Fraser said: “Wembley Park is the only place in the world that can deliver global sport, entertainment and events, alongside such a breadth of retail, restaurants, leisure and places to work and live. When considering international destinations that have successfully combined some, but never all, of these elements, it is clear that Wembley Park is a world first.”
The point is that retail districts must leverage their strengths – not just the location and aesthetic of the built environment, but also a suitable tenant mix that matches the catchment profile, the local economic potential, the spectrum of attractions and much more.
The Grimsey Review talked about town centres becoming community hubs that include housing, offices and some shops. It said that retail destinations “must create their own unique reason for communities to gather there”.
Grimsey is right. Retail thrives where communities do. Quintain’s vision is for Wembley Park to create the largest build-to-rent single-site development in the UK, with a full-time residential community of 5,000 homes by 2027, all managed by Tipi. Added to that, the scheme is creating a vibrant retail and leisure offer, with a curated mix of almost 70 new shops, restaurants and services. This is in addition to London Designer Outlet, London’s largest Boxpark, the recently announced Wembley Park Market and the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.
And there’s more. We have introduced innovation with retail leases. London Designer Outlet, the capital’s leading fashion and lifestyle outlet centre, uses revenue-based rents. The result is a symbiotic relationship between tenant and landlord: in good times, both parties benefit; in less favourable times, both are incentivised to generate improvements. This encourages the landlord to work on enhancing the footfall, dwell time, demographic profile and frequency of customer visits. It’s one of the reasons why LDO’s footfall rose 8%, year on year, over the Christmas trading period.
It’s also why we’ve introduced revenue-based rents right across Wembley Park. These leases, and other tenant support innovations, are key as catchment research indicates Wembley Park could attract footfall of more than 20 million a year, and a projected annual retail spend of £328m, which is more than Camden, London Victoria or Ealing Broadway.
At the Property Week seminar on Thursday 2 May, the retail apocalypse will be reviewed alongside ways to survive it. By learning from the best of the best around the world, we’re gathering a spectrum of attractions at Wembley Park to build a community and a vibrant retail and leisure offer. Through innovative and imaginative leasing options, we have a vested interest in the prosperity of retailers, and that benefits the catchment community, workers and the local economy.
Matt Slade is retail director of Quintain for Wembley Park