1. February 2019

  2. QR codes: rebooting retail

    20 February 2019
    How seemingly out-dated technology is now transforming the way retailers configure their stores and shoppers pay for goods.
    It’s been 25 years since QR (Quick Response) codes were first introduced to the world - the scannable graphics that have featured on virtually everything from boarding passes, magazines and food products to social media - connecting users to video content, websites and product information. Arguably born ahead of its time, the technology quickly gained a somewhat poor reputation amongst users when it was initially introduced, with reports of links to inactive websites or frustrations at additional download requirements.  

     Fast forward to today, and the QR code is enjoying a definite resurgence, with 2018 research from GlobalWebIndex indicating that twice as many respondents in Europe and North America scanned a QR code in Q3 2018 compared with Q3 2015. The driver behind its revival lies within its adoption by social media/payment giants WeChat, SnapChat and AliPay, as well as new found ease of use following the launch of Apple’s iOS 11, which incorporates a native QR code reader built into the camera. 

    The retail industry in particular has embraced the use of smartphone scanning, with fashion brands and QR codes proving to be a match made in heaven. Fashion retailer Zara recently added QR codes to their clothing labels, providing a direct link online to order or obtain information on sizes, colours and manufacturing. During their January sale campaign, QR codes adorned Zara shop fronts enabled consumers to link to sale items ready for order online without the need to enter the shop. Taking this one step further, the brand unveiled its new-look digital store concept at Westfield Stratford City last year, where amongst other features, a robotic arm collects and organises packages, and delivers products in seconds following the scanning of a personal QR code.

    In the international grocery sector, retailers have taken to combining elements of online and offline shopping to create the ultimate seamless in-store experience. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has done just this in their Hema store concept, with customers able to scan QR codes on food products to get information, including the exact date items were harvested, sourced and delivered. As a result of its popularity, Alibaba is rapidly expanding Hema throughout China. Amazon’s latest entrance into the grocery market ‘Amazon Go’ also relies on the use of a personalised QR profile to register users on entry/exit. On the European side, Sainsbury’s recently trialed their first till-free lane in Clapham, London, where QR codes are used to facilitate the payment of goods. 

    Retail, while being about experience, is also all about margins and any development in technology that reduces the cost of physical retailing is an important one for operators. The integration of QR codes both streamlines the shopper’s in-store experience and reduces the retailer’s overheads with fewer people required to staff a store. 

    The term ‘quick response’ now lives up to its name, and with Google Pay, Barclays PingIt and many others developing QR payment systems, it seems likely that we will see the widespread adoption of this payment method across the UK. 

    The convergence of physical and digital worlds is continuing apace and we expect the integration of QR codes to play a major role in disrupting the way we interact in-store, online and in more informal retail environments.


    Georgie Griffiths
    Surveyor Retail Capital Markets

  3. Pachamama heads east: Peruvian inspired restaurant opens in Shoreditch

    12 February 2019
    Given how deeply rooted Pachamama is as a Londoner’s favourite in the capital’s Peruvian dining scene, it seems somewhat implausible that not only did the Creative Restaurant Group’s first Pachamama only open in 2014, but that the Shoreditch opening brings the London total to only three.
    The Colliers Tenant Representation team were contacted by Pachamama last year to source a suitable location for the restaurant’s eastern expansion, and the team’s foraging unearthed an opportunity in Shoreditch at Ironwood Works, a warehouse building that was mid-refurbishment but had yet to go to market.

    Developed by Aitch Group to a design by Hut Architects, Ironwood Works is a classic Shoreditch building, with a brick façade and huge industrial windows with a dual frontage onto both Great Eastern Street and Willow Street. It’s a location that gives Pachamama East a highly visible position at the very heart of the Shoreditch Triangle. 

    The restaurant extends to just over 2,500ft2 and is a two-storey space across the ground and lower ground floors, with dramatic ceiling heights exceeding 4m at street level and 3.4m on the lower floor. Pachamama took the unit in shell and core condition before enacting a fit out by its design partner Inter Developments Consultants.

    Fittingly for its eastern opening, the Shoreditch Pachamama has augmented its menu by adding Asian influences, with bubble-tea cocktails and Sichuan fried chicken sitting alongside the restaurant’s signature pisco sours and ceviches.

    Upstairs at Ironwood Works are five floors of beautifully crafted office space: three from the original warehouse and two more from a new  extension and roof terrace, where developers Aitch Group have taken occupation. 

    The opening of Pachamama East puts the restaurant in exceptional company, with the Shoreditch dining scene now home to some of the most fashionable, exclusive and finest options for eating out in London, including Nobu, St John’s Cheese & Wine, Lyle’s, Clove Club, Andina and L’Anima.

  4. January 2019

  5. Ideal Standard taps Drapers House for new HQ

    7 January 2019
    We have now completed the first letting at the refurbished Drapers House on Clerkenwell Road to one of the world’s longest established bathroom manufacturers, Ideal Standard.
    It’s something of a lucky acquisition for the multinational firm given how showroom locations in the City Fringe are notoriously hard to come by. So much so that our Tenant Representation team were moved to blog about the difficulties of acquiring a street frontage in London’s creative quarter.

    Taking a ten-year lease on its new home, Ideal Standard is relocating from its existing headquarters on Charterhouse Street in nearby Smithfield. The move to Drapers House will give the company 4,000 ft2 to exhibit their products and house their design and sales teams. 

    The letting of the ground and lower ground floors is the first at the recently transformed building, once the home of iconic British fashion house Alexander McQueen and now refurbished to an outstanding design by Rockspring Property Investment Managers, an arm of PATRIZIA Immobilien AG.

    With the showroom space now successfully occupied, our concentration shifts to the upper floors, where four floors of remarkable office space await potential tenants.

    The first and second floors host a pair of single-storey units of around 2,200 ft2 of classic open-plan warehouse space with exposed timber, grit-blasted brickwork, and industrial windows.

    The crowning glory, though, are the penthouse floors. The third & fourth floor units provide a total of 4,400ft2.  This remarkable space includes a sleek mezzanine, two private terrace and, the building’s piece de resistance, a barrel vaulted glass roof. It’s an inspired piece of architectural ingenuity that offers an outlook across the Clerkenwell rooftops normally reserved for birds and adventurous cats.

    Among the materials, finishes and specification are: black steel mesh; exposed warehouse
    fabric; superb natural daylight; new VRF air-conditioning systems; LED strip lighting; fully
    accessible inlaid timber raised floors; shower facilities and cycle storage.

    With a location between St John Street and Goswell Road, Drapers House sits at the heart of Clerkenwell’s bustling street scene of creative enterprises from shops and cafes to designers and media firms. 

    Farringdon Station is within a few minutes walk and is soon to become a major London interchange when the first phase of Crossrail completes, adding direct trains to Heathrow and Canary Wharf to its existing Thameslink, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City line services.

  6. Legal & General Affordable Homes settles on Cock Lane

    7 January 2019
    The insurance giant Legal & General hit the headlines recently with the announcement that it had been granted Registered Provider status for its new business Legal & General Affordable Homes; part of Legal & General’s ambition to become the leading private affordable housing provider in the UK.
    Legal & General Affordable Homes is aiming to deliver 3,000 homes a year within the next four years by working closely with housing associations and targeting all areas of the market, including new build Section 106 and grant-funded affordable rent, social rent and shared ownership units.

    Legal & General contacted Colliers to find an office for their fast growing Affordable Homes team. The brief was to acquire a suitable workspace as quickly as possible to a list of requirements including a City Fringe location; fully furnished and fitted accommodation; flexibility of term to aid workforce expansion and, perhaps most appropriately of all, an affordable rent. 

    During our searches we uncovered a building in the heart of Smithfield where the landlord was seeking short term lets to facilitate their plans for future development of the wider site. The 2,312ft2 of refurbished space on the 2nd floor of 12 Cock Lane seemed the perfect combination of size, location, lease and price for Legal & General’s brief, with big windows along an entire wall ensuring a bright and pleasant workplace.

    Terms were agreed and, at just 2.5 months from the client’s initial approach to us to completion of the deal, the acquisition represents a particularly swift result, even for the Tenant Representation team!

    “It was a pleasure working with Sophie and her team who took the time to understand our requirements and present a tailored range of options which met our brief. With our team expanding at a rapid rate, we were delighted with the speed with which Colliers identified an ideal property at a very commercial rate.”


    If you’d like to find out how the Tenant Representation can help you find a suitable new home for your business, contact: Sophie Higgins

  7. December 2018

  8. What’s the alternative in London?

    19 December 2018
    An increasing number of investors are looking to ‘alternative’ property investments for the kind of long-term secure income that is no longer common in the office, retail and industrial sectors.
    As detailed in our new research report on the sector, alternative investment volumes have accounted for more than one quarter of all UK commercial property transactions in each year since 2015, and have since become the second most sought after sector behind offices. In 2017, alternatives transaction volumes reached £17.6bn, easily outpacing both industrial (£11bn) and retail (£8.3bn).

    Some of the predominant targets for alternatives investors are the private rented sector (PRS), hotels, student housing and care homes – all asset types which are well represented across London. In line with the rest of the UK, the London alternatives market has grown over the years and in 2018 we have seen around £5bn of transactions.

    There are strong commercial and social drivers behind the investment case for these types of assets. The trend towards urbanisation; the economics of higher education; and an aging population will all support the need for the more private rented sector homes, student housing and healthcare facilities while rising tourist numbers will increase the demand for hotel rooms. 

    Investors can be further reassured by the fact that demographic trends are relatively predictable and it is, therefore, possible to estimate demand for these alternatives sectors. Similarly, occupier demand for some alternatives is less cyclical than in the traditional sectors and therefore less exposed to economic shocks.

    However, there is no doubt that there are also risks associated with alternatives investments. Despite, in many cases, exhibiting higher yields than the traditional sectors, alternatives are often reliant on operator performance and can be exposed to management risks and/or contingent costs.

    Ultimately, the alternative sectors are perhaps best suited to those investors that are seeking stable and long-term income rather than short-term strategies and those who are trying to ‘play the cycle’.

    One of the key compelling aspects of those sectors is the prevalence of long leases of up to 25-30 years, often in combination with sale-and-leaseback or income strips strategies whereby an investor buys an income stream, rather than the physical asset. Accordingly, alternatives are considered by some investors as relatively defensive, stable and low-risk investment vehicles. 

    So whilst London’s commercial property investment market has always been characterised by its trophy office buildings and luxury retail, you can expect a growing volume of investor money in the capital, both domestic and cross border, to head for assets which are maybe more pedestrian, but increasingly intrinsic to our lives.


    Oliver Kolodseike 
    Senior Property Economist 
  9. Colliers secures luxury successor for Motcomb Street unit

    14 December 2018
    The Grosvenor Estate, advised by the Central London Retail division at global real estate advisor Colliers International, has let 4 Motcomb Street to luxury childrenswear brand Marie Chantal.
    The 512-sq ft unit will be Marie Chantal’s second boutique in London and will complement the brand’s already successful online offering. The business is owned by the Crown Princess of Greece and inspired by the ethos ‘let children be children’.

    Sara Simpson, a director in the Central London Retail Agency team at Colliers International, said: “Grosvenor has a deep understanding of the streets and neighbourhoods in Mayfair and Belgravia; it has, over the years, helped to cultivate a district that now makes an important economic, social and cultural contribution to our capital city. Marie Chantal is a strong addition to the businesses already operating on Motcomb Street, which is fast becoming a favourite with high-fashion and couture retailers.”

    Marie Chantal joins a growing list of luxury brands located in this area, including Carolina Bucci and Christian Louboutin.
  10. Mic on Mondays | David Kosky

    10 December 2018
    David Kosky is a co-founder of Work.Life, one of the UK’s largest co-working environments.

    What is Work.Life?

    Work Life is a co-working business, that specialises in working with landlords to animate and activate their buildings.

    How was Work.Life established?

    So we set the business up in 2015, our first space was in Camden. The opportunity we saw was that more and more landlords wanted to co-work in their buildings but still very much investment building driven. And we saw an opportunity to deliver a smaller scale co-working business, an operation to animate and activate buildings but not to over-expose them with investment value concerns.

    What sets Work.Life aside from competition?

    We have a very landlord friendly, strategic property strategy. We take smaller spaces with ground-floor frontage to help animate buildings from the ground floor.

    How does Work.Life create the perfect co-working environment?

    For us, size is a big thing, so actually having smaller spaces allows us to get a very personal feeling in our spaces. It’s all about understanding experience and we’re experienced led; we want people to feel relaxed, at home, welcome in all our spaces, and everything we do from the furniture to the way it’s designed is all done with that in mind.

    What is the future of Work.Life?

    We are continuing to grow, we have spaces in nine locations, and we are also working more and more closely with landlords and bigger businesses, who are all looking to co-working to animate their buildings and really improve the whole experience for their customers or their tenants.

  11. Work over art: media-style offices above gallery in RIBA winning building

    7 December 2018
    Almost dead centre in the Shoreditch Triangle, this trio of modern offices flaunts a sense of fun and individuality with quirky offset picture windows in one of the most striking contemporary buildings in the neighbourhood.
    Available are three units, two on the third floor and one of the fourth, ranging from 740 to 926ft2. With a quoting rent of £47.50 per ft2 and flexible lease terms, they offer cost-conscious businesses an economical price-point to secure a workspace in a prime City Fringe position.

    Exposed concrete soffits with surface mounted light boxes are accompanied by concealed air-conditioning, raised floors, kitchenettes and in-situ meeting rooms, while the building offers its occupiers a commissionaire, shower facilities, cycle storage and events/conference spaces available for rent.

    Designed by David Adjaye, one of Britain’s leading contemporary architects, Rivington Place opened in October 2007 and won a RIBA award in 2008. It was the first new-build public gallery in London since the opening of the Hayward Gallery way back in 1968. 

    The building is the home of two of London’s most enquiring and enlightening cultural organisations:  Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), and Autograph ( the Association of Black Photographers). 

    Iniva explores the diversity of society through exhibitions, debates, learning and digital initiatives, while Autograph uses photography to explore questions of cultural identity, race, representation, human rights and social justice. In short, there is always something interesting and thought-provoking to enjoy.

    The combination of gallery and education spaces, meeting rooms, café and the Stuart Hall Library make Rivington Place a unique and enriching place to work: a space for viewing, researching and learning about contemporary art. 

    The area, of course, needs no introduction. The epicentre of creative cool in London, Shoreditch has spawned many an imitation but still reigns supreme. Home to some of the most inspiring creative businesses in London in fields form architecture and interior deign to media, fashion and right through to forward thinking tech and financial sectors, the area is live from dawn ‘til dusk with a hug offering of places to eat and drink, as well as plenty of places to stay the night when going home is no longer an option.

    Close to Shoreditch High Street (Overground) and Old Street (Northern Line and National Rail) stations, Rivington Place is also within walking distance of London Liverpool Street where its Underground, National Rail and Stansted Express lines are soon to be supplemented with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line when phase one of Crossrail completes.

  12. November 2018

  13. The department store reinvented

    27 November 2018
    While there’s no shortage of pundits who want to proclaim the death of the traditional department store, the central concept which gave rise to this type of retailing – the curation of a wide range of items in one store – remains appealing to many shoppers.
    The latest manifestation of it can be found in London’s Duke Street where Grosvenor, the landlord of No.55, has opened the North Mayfair Emporium – a vibrant mix of fashion, style, food and drink.
    The former Jigsaw has been converted into a shared space for brands including Bailey Nelson, Lumitrix, Roscomar, Sons of London, Winser London and YOUPEOPLE with food & drink by Fernandez & Wells.

    The initiative signals another step in the evolution of pop-up stores. Once not much more than a way to mitigate the cost of an empty store, pop-ups – if correctly delivered – can bring excitement and footfall to a retailing location.

    For the landlord, they enliven a store and offer the possibility that a temporary occupier will turn into a permanent tenant. For a brand, they are the chance to road test their offer and see if it is received well in that particular location. This latter point is extremely important as brands sometimes don’t ‘travel’ even when it’s just a different place in the same city.

    Where the Emporium moves the model on is its multi-brand offer which brings a different mix which theoretically could be changed even in the relatively short life of a pop-up.

    The North Mayfair Emporium is open through till Christmas Eve. Whether you’re interested in how retail is reinventing itself or you just like great contemporary fashion, it’s well worth a visit.

  14. Loving the gym

    19 November 2018
    The prospect of a trip to the gym will mean different things to different people but you wouldn’t have imagined that romance is one of things that springs to mind. However, in a survey of 3,000 gym users that we conducted for our latest review of the London gym market, an amazing 75% said that they’d go to the gym on a date.
    The fact that so many people could see the gym as the place for a romantic encounter perhaps speaks volumes for how embedded the ‘keep fit’ process is in so many people’s lives.

    The London health and fitness scene continues to boom, but there is an increasing polarisation in the market between the luxury and studio gym sectors and the budget offers. The premium market accounts for 18% of clubs but represents more than half of all floor space because of its need to accommodate specialist areas such as altitude conditioned studios, o-zone treated pools and bespoke training equipment. 

    While the sector was once dominated by mid-market branded groups such as Fitness First and LA Fitness, the mid-market’s stronghold has weakened in the face of new niche offers like 1Rebel, F45, Barry’s Bootcamp and the rapid growth of low-cost formats such as Pure Gym. As a result of this diversification, the mid-market sector now only represents 19% of all London clubs while studio gyms make up 41% of clubs across the capital. 

    Among the newcomers to the scene is the American brand, Peloton. It combines cycling studios with a retail arm where customers can purchase a bespoke bike with an inbuilt 22-inch HD screen onto which a range of immersive cycling classes that can be streamed to you in the (dis)comfort of your own home.

    Meanwhile rents are also getting suitably pumped up. Average studio gym rents are around £32.50 per sq ft – a very decent return to landlords for what is often space that would struggle to attract an alternative occupier.

    Given the younger generation’s focus on healthier lifestyles plus the growing importance of wellbeing, the London gym sector looks like it will continue in good shape for some time to come.


    Ross Kirton
    Head of UK leisure agency,
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