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  1. November 2019

  2. Colliers Retail Agency Central London

    Trying something new

    5 November 2019
    Josh Leon looks at whether big groups with under-performing sites should think about partnerships to unlock profits.

    I went to a seminar organised by investment bank, Citi, recently that looked at investment trends in the F&B sector and inevitably in that environment and in the current climate, the conversation came up about big chains versus innovative independents - the latter increasingly outperforming the former.

    In this context, it was great to have Billy Hookway from JKS and White Rabbit founder, Chris Miller, on the panel as, while very different, they share the same aim of achieving scale through repeated diversification rather than the more familiar tactic of simple replication. Both have finance or private equity expertise as a core part of the business but both are operators. Imbiba is another London-based investor/operator with multiple small brands under its banner. Perhaps this model could act as inspiration for some of the big chains which have the sites and the resources but seem to have run out of ideas - and customers.

    It's undoubtedly more difficult to consistently come up with new ideas than it is to oversee a brand ‘roll-out’. However, if a business opens its door to new creative talent and sets itself up as investor as well as operator there is potentially an unlimited pool of ideas from which to choose.

    It's certainly more in line with what customers want. Although restaurant groups have traditionally grown through faithful replication, the trend for some time has been for unique experiences.  And that’s ultimately why we’ve seen so many of the big brands fail recently.

    Of course, there will always be room for a limited number of brands that can sustain ubiquity and be controlled at board level with a competent operational management firmly in place. But we’ve now seen that - outside the fast food and coffee sectors - that approach is increasingly unsustainable.

    The independent sector, as ever, is where the innovation is, and that is what the customer wants.   The recent explosion of street food halls and similar formats are clear evidence of this- a response to demands for choice, quality and an experience- a reaction against boringness. 

    So how can big institutional money tackle this challenge? While a board of accountants may be able to oversee a process of faithful replication,  growing a group while continuing to innovate is a completely different game and one you only get to play if you have the operational and creative expertise generally only found in the independent sector.

    In London, for example, there are still numerous sites held by the big restaurant and pub groups that are considered ‘prime’ yet massively underperform in relative terms. This is to the detriment of customers, landlords and to the institutional owners of these businesses. Maybe it’s time for those groups to switch from ‘Operator Mode’ to ‘Investor Mode’ in certain cases. Instead of coasting along or selling the asset at a loss, perhaps they should first try partnering with an independent operator with proven success, who may hold the key to big profits but doesn’t have the funds for a big premium or the required capex.

    In this scenario, everybody can win including landlords who retain the covenant strength of the ultimate owner of the asset.  In due course, these owners may find themselves with a stable of small, agile and innovative partners to invest in and work with, providing sites, staff, and capex and taking a share of the upside.  Deciding who to partner with is clearly the main consideration but if in doubt advice can be sought from people who know the sector intimately and have a firm grasp of the market.

    Ultimately, as the trend increasingly veers towards independent talent, maybe that’s how the big money invested in the sector can ultimately get in on the action.


  3. September 2019

  4. Selling cinema

    19 September 2019
    Last week’s news that Selfridges is planning to open a cinema in its Oxford Street store is a further sign of the renaissance of London’s silver screens.

    Nationally, cinema attendance levels have hit a 40-year high while in the capital one of its iconic cinemas – the Odeon Leicester Square – has recently re-opened after a multi-million pound refurbishment. Confidence in the sector is high and there’s good reasons why.

    Many decades ago cinema was credited as having ‘killed off the music hall’, and its own slow demise was predicted in the face of first, television, and then digital downloads. Ironically, it is TV which is now arguably being more impacted by online entertainment although Netflix – which is supposed to bring the cinema into your front room - continues to haemorrhage money while the cinema chains count the takings.

    The ability to ‘deliver an experience’ is the key to cinema’s resilience as a leisure pursuit. What the new Selfridges screen and the refitted Odeon have in common is that they want to offer an enhanced customer experience.

    The Selfridges project is a joint venture with the people behind The Olympic cinema in Barnes. A quick perusal of its description of how the former recording studios were turned into a cinema (‘We went to Norway to find the comfiest reclining seats and then wrapped them in snuggly wool felt’) tells you about their approach.

    And there’s a symmetry about a retailer branching out into cinema as both sectors know they have to provide an experience-led offer if they are to thrive. In this respect they are both complementary and aligned.

    This ‘premium-isation’ of cinemas has started in the boutique end of the sector but it will inevitably spread to the multiplexes. Operators are striving to make sure that the cinema experience continues to beat watching a film in your living room.

    After all, no matter how big your TV is, it’s no match for the silver screen.


  5. July 2019

  6. City Spaces

    3 July 2019
    We spend a lot of time talking about office space, tenant amenity and rents in the Square Mile, but as the weather (hopefully) gets warmer we are now turning to the outside spaces on our doorstep.
    Whether for some fresh air, lunch, a jog, or a sense of occasion, the City has a remarkable and surprisingly varied collection of classic and contemporary public spaces that are free to access. These are some of our favourites…
    1. One Fen Court EC3
    Described in the Guardian as a "candy striped miracle on the London skies", the public roof garden at One Fen Court on Fenchurch Street exudes exclusivity despite its free public access. The feeling of standing inside the skyline (rather than above it) gives the terrace a special something - making you feel part of things rather than simply looking down on them. 

    2. Paternoster Square EC4
    Adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral, bustling Paternoster Square is today unrecognisable from its former huddle of post-war office blocks. In 2003 Arup assembled a collective of leading architects including William Whitfield, Richard MacCormac and Allies & Morrison to reimagine the site. 
    Alongside its busy shops and cafes, the square hosts a street food market and regular ‘pop-up’ featured including a big screen and deck chairs for free public viewing of Wimbledon. The newest addition to the square is a mini golf course with London inspired putting greens. Definitely worth a lunch time visit! 

    3. Flat Iron Square SE1
    In Bankside, just south of Southwark Bridge and Borough Market, Flat Iron Square occupies seven railway arches and a Grade II Listed former warehouse. There’s there is very little that doesn’t go on here, with an all-day garden, bars, restaurants, street food trucks, live music and weekend flea markets. The industrial surroundings are an evocative backdrop for lunch, drinks or dinner and there’s another big-screen opportunity for fans of tennis and football with showings of the Women’s World Cup and Wimbledon.

    4. The Sky Garden EC3
    Thirty-eight floors up, and occupying three storeys at the top of the Walkie Talkie, the Sky Garden’s open air terrace, observation decks and breathtaking 360° views of London are given a spectacular tropical lift with richly planted horticulture from the award-winning landscape architecture practice Gillespies. If you feel like a fresh start, you can join a 6:30am Sunrise Yoga class followed by breakfast in the sky. It’s a super-smart venue and you need to book your free ticket in advance, but the experience of London’s highest garden at the top of the City’s fifth tallest building is one that’s well worth planning for.

    5. Festival Gardens 
    When it comes to views in the City there is little that can compete with a clear view of St Pauls Cathedral. The protective line of sight means that the Cathedral is visible 10 miles away from the highest point in Richmond Park but people from all over the world will travel much further than that to take in the view from Festival Gardens. After you walk past the Cathedral several times a day it is easy to take the historic landmark for granted. There is no better place to enjoy a quick lunch in the sun. 

  7. Fit for purpose?

    2 July 2019
    When we completed our latest research into the London gym & fitness sector, it came as no surprise that London has the highest concentration of gyms in the UK. Demand continues to grow and in the face of this, landlords now have the opportunity to start thinking creatively about the way gyms are incorporated into wider residential or mixed-use developments.

    With 52% of people saying they exercise more intensely during weekdays, office landlords have the chance to better utilise and monetise buildings’ underused or vacant spaces. Already, the conversion of lower ground floors in offices has created a steady stream of new gym opportunities.

    Similarly, the cooling of the retail sector is likely to provide more opportunities for in-town and out-of-town facilities. The convenience of being able to shop and workout in a single location continues to appeal: the number of gyms situated in High Street locations has increased by more than 15% since 2017.

    Fitness is also used as footfall generator by retailers in the sector. The free classes offered by Sweaty Betty and the virtual studio classes promoted by Peloton continue to prove very successful. Meanwhile, Virgin Active - which divested its neighbourhood estate to Nuffield in order to concentrate on central London and other metropolitan locations - is converting traditional gym floor space into immersive group exercise studios.

    The UK gym market will undergo further consolidation and an increased number of mergers and acquisitions as the sector matures; while demand will see London experience progressive rental growth. Against this backdrop, all London landlords should be exploring if any of their assets are fit for purpose as a gym or fitness class space.
  8. Fitness in Fashion

    1 July 2019
    Over the last year the rise in the ‘boutique’ gym has taken over and given our old friend Fitness First a run for their money. New gym concepts and classes are popping up on every corner and the options are endless.
    Instead of the large mega-clubs of tens of thousands of square feet catering to the widest possible audience, people are beginning to shift their exercise routine to smaller, specialised training studios. Whether it be spinning, yoga, boxing, cross-fit.. you name it, you can do it! 

    Going to the gym with friends is beginning to replace going to your local pub, and the younger generation are opting for a gym class followed by a protein shake instead. 

    To name a few, Soul Cycle, has just opened their first studio outside of America in Soho, 1REBEL meanwhile, offers a range of classes including boxing, spin classes and gruelling circuits combining treadmills and free weights and KOBOX specialises in boxing classes combined with nightclub music.

    Anyone who is into health and fitness, or anyone with an Instagram account would have heard of the latest fitness community, F45. An Australian operation that is now a global concept with over six million members. The company has more than 1,500 studios around the world including 35 in the UK, three of which are in the City of London. They have become an Instagram sensation through posting images of F45’ers following completion of their gruelling ‘8-week challenge’ and it is safe to say, it works.  

    We wanted to join the hype, and 10 member of the Colliers team endured an early Monday morning HIIT class and, despite our fairly high level of fitness, it was hard. 
    Much to our surprise 6-packs were not visible immediately, however, walking up the stairs was a struggle until Thursday. 

    In a move to replace the often anonymous experience of working out in massive groups, the F45 training studios have smaller classes to foster camaraderie and support between members with classes changing each day to avoid any repetition. That’s a valuable commodity given the intensity of the some of the sessions. 

    “For years, fitness-lovers have had a stark choice: either pay hundreds of pounds a week for personal training sessions, or very little for an over-crowded traditional gym where no-one helps you, knows your name or cares about your results. The rise of the boutique sector reflects what was missing here: a mid-priced option which delivers amazing results as part of a semi-personalised model."

    In this respect, F45 is to fitness as Uber is to transport. We both deliver the benefits of a personal service to the masses, for a fraction of the cost, using smart technology. 

    The boutique sector is also not just in the fitness business: we provide community, friendship, stress-relief, entertainment...even an opportunity to meet a partner! The often-unspoken benefits of team-training are as important as the workouts themselves.” Mike Harley, co-owner for F45 Vauxhall 

    With the flexibility and variety of options that comes with the boutique gym craze, and new gym concepts opening on a regular basis. F45 and number of other operators have a high demand to open new branches across London and in the City, thus increasing requirements for suitable ground floor and lower ground floor space. 

    Have we seen the end of standard gyms? Is the cross-trainer a thing of the past? Only time will tell, but it’s safe say being fit is definitely in fashion. 





  9. June 2019

  10. Colliers launches Brand Representation consultancy as retailers continue to target London

    10 June 2019
    Retailers undeterred by Brexit uncertainty and are competing for the best stores across the capital
    Colliers International’s Central London Retail team has created a dedicated Brand Representation team in response to the growing numbers of retailers who want a presence in London.

    Research from the firm shows that 17% more international brands have opened new stores in London since the EU referendum than they did in the two years preceding the vote.

    The new Brand Representation team will be led by Peter Flint and Rob Hargreaves, who together will provide bespoke acquisition services across London and also advise on how brands can control their property costs.

    Peter Flint of London Brand Representation at Colliers International comments: “London is a complex retail market and it is essential that brands – whether they are making their debut in the capital or expanding – get their strategy right.

    “Brands are coming to us for advice because of the dual perspectives we have from advising brands such as Uniqlo, Inditex, LVMH, Jigsaw, Sweaty Betty, Laderach, and ECCO, as well as many of London’s major landlords. Understanding both sides of the equation is vital.”

    Rob Hargreaves comments: “It’s an exciting time for London retail and it’s clear that brands are not being deterred from entering the market by continued Brexit uncertainty. The capital is still seen as one of world’s premier retail destinations by shoppers and retailers alike, despite the wider political and economic uncertainty.

    “This dedicated Central London Brand Representation team ensures Colliers is better placed than ever to provide occupiers with unrivalled acquisition and portfolio strategy advice across the capital.”
  11. April 2019

  12. Advantage wellness: Colliers on court

    30 April 2019
    A beautiful Wednesday afternoon in London provided perfect conditions for our most recent Wellness in the Workplace event. This time the disposal, acquisition and members of the investment teams ventured outside to the tennis courts of Lincolns Inn Fields, a hidden gem in the heart of Midtown, until now.
    The City teams undertake a Wellness event once a month, not only for our physical fitness but also for our mental wellbeing, something which is at the forefront of our minds with the upcoming Mental Health Awareness Week.

    This month’s activity was an afternoon of mixed doubles, with the teams revealing a broad range of talent from across the ability spectrum. Several of the team are regular players and showed off their prowess in fine form. But special mention must also go to the novices who provided an amusing counterbalance to the display of expertise.

    The real surprise was James Walker who had somehow managed to keep his masterful tennis playing abilities a secret from the team. And while the afternoon was far competitive, he nonetheless wiped the floor with anyone pitted against him: a true dark horse.

    Although not as well known as the John Soames Museum that occupies one of the houses on Lincolns Inn Field, the tennis courts are well worth a visit and there’s also a spectators’ café for food and refreshments – it really is an oasis in the middle of London.

    Among the many benefits of tennis are increased aerobic fitness and reaction times; strength and flexibility; lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure, the list goes on… But there’s a social aspect to tennis that really gives it the edge, and is what we particularly enjoyed when out on the court.   

    Of course, the best way to recover from so much running about is to replenish those burned-off calories with a healthy meal and rehydration. But alas, the best lifestyle choices aren’t always the most observed, and it was game, set and match to pizza and the pub.

  13. Craftwork on display

    8 April 2019
    The area around Whitecross Street is a unique corner of the city fringe. As the point where Barbican, Moorgate, Old Street and Clerkenwell meet, the mixture of city finance, independent retail, residential homes and iconic architecture adds a singular vibe to EC1’s tech and creative scene, not to mention Whitecross Street’s cracking daily street food market.
    Parallel to Old Street, narrow Dufferin Street runs east to west from Bunhill Road to Whitecross Street and is lined almost entirely with tall tenement buildings facing former warehouses.

    An example of the latter, Craftwork Studios is a formidable hunk of Victorian industrial heritage converted into media-style workspaces. Two office units ¬– one on the third floor and one on the fourth – are currently undergoing a complete refurbishment. Measuring 5,759ft2 and 4,421ft2 respectively, each has a terrific natural brightness from windows on three elevations.

    The interiors use a simple-but-highly-effective monochrome colour palette which serves to highlight the building’s original fabric, creating definitive examples of high quality City Fringe workspace. Alongside the grit-blasted brickwork, warehouse windows, steel beams and iron columns are contemporary additions of rich timber engineered floors, exposed air conditioning units and suspended LED light boxes hanging from 3 metre-high ceilings. 

    Along with the refurbishment of the office spaces, the building’s main reception area and common part have been redesigned while other facilities include 3 passenger lifts, on-site commissionaire and secure cycle parking.

    Whitecross Street’s daily street food market has become one a huge local highlight and is a firm favourite with anyone living or working nearby. The unique atmosphere coupled with eats and treats from around the world is a genuine delight, matched only by the bonus of having it right outside the door.

    Being at the meeting point of so many adjacent districts also means excellent connectivity. Moorgate, Old Street, Barbican and Farringdon stations are all within walking distance and between them provide Underground, Thameslink and National Rail services. When the Crossrail project completes, Craftwork Studios will have two Elizabeth Line stations to choose from: either Farringdon or the Moorgate entrance to Liverpool Street. 

    Both office units are scheduled for completion in summer 2019.




  14. March 2019

  15. British clothing label collars new HQ

    4 March 2019
    We have just completed the letting of the entire first phase at EWR on Parr Street, N1 to the fashion house JW Anderson.

    Founded by Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson in 2008, the label's rise has been swift. Its idiosyncratic perspective quickly grew beyond its early cult following and resulted in the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH taking a 46% stake in 2013. Today, JW Anderson has a achieved international renown along with a tenfold increase in annual turnover. Among its many accolades are the double win of Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year at the 2015 British Fashion Awards.

    The label has relocated from its former headquarters in Dalston where it had occupied 4,000 ft2 since 2014. The move to Shoreditch and into 12,000ft2 across the first to fourth floors will allow the company to expand its operations across the board.

    EWR is part of a new creative neighbourhood for Hoxton that bridges the Regent’s Canal and connects the dots between City Road and Essex Road. Already home to fashion houses and tech venture capitalists, the area surrounding Shoreditch Park is becoming a magnet for businesses seeking a city fringe location and excellent value for money.

    Designed by Buckley Grey Yeoman and developed by Aitch Group, this brand new building takes its cue from an industrial aesthetic with plenty of concrete and crittall, but the scheme is elevated with elegant interiors and an arresting reception. The effect is delivers a great first impression alongside a warm welcome that continues throughout, with strong, bold and carefully proportioned spaces offering a comfortable and productive environment for the people working there.

    Parr Street is roughly ten minutes’ walk from both Old Street and Essex Road stations, so well connected for tubes, trains, buses and cycle paths. It's also an stroll into Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, Islington and The City for lunchtime or after-work retail, dining and drinking therapy.

    Phase 2 of EWR is due to complete this summer and will provide a fully self-contained 10,000ft2 duplex unit across the ground and lower ground floors. If you'd like to discover how the building could work for your business, please contact Elliott Stern in the City Fringe team.

  16. February 2019

  17. Wellness in the workplace: food for thought

    26 February 2019
    As part of the ongoing commitment to wellness in the workplace at the Colliers City Office, nutritionist Jade Barkett of Avococo Jade chatted to the team about the importance of nutrition for workplace productivity and day-to-day wellbeing.
    Avococo Jade provides personalised nutrition advice and genetic testing. But with a previous career in equity research at an investment bank, founder Jade also has first-hand experience of trying to marry a healthy eating routine with a busy working day. 

    So how can we incorporate sustainable simple eating practices into our daily lives? 

    Jade advised on the benefits of the vital vitamins necessary to boost our energy levels, focus and productivity. We all know the importance of Vitamin C, but our brain often pushes for the easier sugary snacks such as biscuits, sweets or chocolates. Instead, Jade suggested making healthier fruits more available and visible in the office, forcing us to think before we eat and most likely choose the healthier option. A simple fruit bowl in the office is a great starting point! 

    Interestingly, coffee is on the recommended nutrition list for improving cognitive function and fuelling productivity. However, given that caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours the recommendation was to keep the intake to the mornings: a late afternoon shot would still be in someone's system by bedtime.  

    Getting enough sleep was another key recommendation from Jade. Disrupted sleep patterns leave people feeling unrested, fuelling the desire to take in more caffeine (or bad sugars) throughout the day. This spikes energy levels and can lead to enhanced anxiety, which is an area of concern when working in a high-pressured environment that requires concise and accurate decisions.  

    Cravings sometimes can’t be stopped, so what’s the alternative? Jade had two great suggestions: drop a cacao cube into some hot water, or put a teaspoon of turmeric into hot oat milk which has a higher protein content than regular milk – this gets released slowly for a continual release of energy, ultimately combating those afternoon dips. 

    Finally, while maintaining nutritional value in the office is important, it also needs to be transferred to our home environment: after a long day, the temptation can be to go for a ready-made option. Jade's healthy was to steam vegetables, instead of boiling or roasting, to retain their healthy goodness. She even suggested making a “cuppa” from the water used to steam the veg! 

    All in all, we really appreciated the advice and look forward (hopefully) to putting these recommendations into practice.

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