Watch: The challenges facing the leisure sector

3rd November 2022 | Phoebe Dobke

The energy crisis was a hot topic of conversation at the recent Completely Retail Marketplace 2022. We sat down with James Hamilton, Rona Kelly and Rachel Belam to discuss this and how the leisure market has recovered after the pandemic and how retailers are approaching new challenges.

Commenting on how the energy crisis is affecting expansion plans, Rachel Belam, head of food, beverage and leisure leasing at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield explained that the recent restaurant openings at Westfield locations in London and Stratford allowed them to avoid the struggles being faced by other retailers.

“I’m not saying we won’t feel that in 2023 but we’ve been really busy, we’ve just opened a host of new restaurants with more to come this year. We’ve just opened Salt Yard, we’ve got Flat Iron opening and Sticks and Sushi just before Christmas.”

Conversely, James Hamilton, property director at Costa, said: “Definitely! It’s definitely made the returns sharper, we use lots of data companies to help us accurately forecast because we want to make informed decisions and this gives us confidence to keep investing, so that certainty at the cost base, its not going to make it easy.”

Rona Kelly, head of estates at The Gym Group echoed this, saying: “We’ve always been very forward thinking in terms of things such as energy costs. It’s about finding the best deals with power suppliers but also looking at what we’ve got in the estate; can we add solar, can we work with landlords and site owners on that basis?”


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