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Five-point plan to revive UK retail industry

Oxford Street, London branch of House of Fraser which is one of those expected to close after the retailer announced plans to shut 31 of its 59 stores across the UK and Ireland as part of a rescue deal. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Oxford Street, London branch of House of Fraser which is one of those expected to close after the retailer announced plans to shut 31 of its 59 stores across the UK and Ireland as part of a rescue deal. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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Real estate company Colliers International has proposed a five-point plan to help revive shopping environments across the UK.

The leasing proposals are a response to the havoc that has been wrought on the sector by major increases in business rates last year, further growth of internet sales and the growing number of retailers shedding stores through Compulsory Voluntary Agreements (CVAs) this year.

Yorkshire has been hit hard by the recent spate of CVAs and retailers going into administration.

The potential closure of more than half of House of Fraser’s stores nationally will be felt in Yorkshire towns and cities, whilst New Look will close three stores in the region as part of its CVA.

The proposed changes to property leasing have been designed to better balance the interest of retailers, landlords and investors.

The points include standard five-year leases, rents based on turnover, options to break based on turnover, standard white box specification and limited incentives.

Greg Styles, head of retail development for Colliers and head of the Leeds office, said:“The five-point plan is aimed at helping retailers access viable trading space, while at the same time enabling retailers, landlords and investors to find occupiers for the rising amount of empty shops across our towns and cities.”

He added: “As with other UK regions, Yorkshire has been hit hard by the recent spate of CVAs and retailers going into administration.

“The potential closure of more than half of House of Fraser’s stores nationally will be felt in Doncaster, Grimsby, Hull and Skipton. Whilst New Look will close three stores in Yorkshire as part of its CVA including its site at The Core Shopping Centre in Leeds city centre, the Whitefriargate store in Hull and their men’s outlet in Doncaster.”

The proposals were announced to coincide with the launch of the consultancy’s annual Midsummer Retail Report.

Olivia Hughes, associate director in Colliers’ Leeds retail agency team, said: “Across Yorkshire, average prime rents were slightly down again year-on-year, by 1.7 per cent.

“Of the 21 locations monitored in our annual Midsummer Retail Report, Harrogate and Kingston upon Hull saw uplifts but overall the softening in rents has been the most widespread since 2013.

“The impact of CVAs cannot be ignored and the retreat of some F&B (food and beverage) operators that we’ve seen this year have released large amounts of space into the market.”

Dann Simms, Colliers’ retail agency director, added: “This isn’t just blue-sky thinking.

“This model won’t be relevant to some circumstances, particularly in fragmented ownership high streets and for flagship stores but there are an increasing number of similar leases being agreed across the UK.

“We are close to launching a leasing campaign for a new mall redevelopment within a well-established London shopping centre where all leases will be offered on this basis.”