Watch: The future of ex-department stores

15th November 2022 | Phoebe Dobke

Traditional department stores have changed greatly over the last few years and this trend has accelerated over the course of the pandemic. Many of the old anchor brands including Debenhams, BHS and Beales have left and many landlords and advising agents are having to revaluate what alternative uses will provide value in the coming years.

We sat down with Robert Wingrave, CEO of Time Retail Partners, and Justin Taylor, Co-Founder of P-Three, at Completely Retail Marketplace 2022 to discuss how department stores have evolved and what is now being done to ensure they still provide value.

Wingrave said the future use of department store space greatly depends on location and consumer needs: “It really does depend on the location and there are some locations that really don’t need to be retail (or leisure) at all, if the economics work, you repurpose it into something else, whether that’s offices or residential.”

Taylor agreed, adding: “Historically, the big shopping centre developments… grab everyone in the catchment. Whereas now, with smaller mixed-use developments the market has more of a micro view. It’s a matter of delivering a tenant mix that is more appropriate for that community.”

However Taylor also highlighted that although redeveloping these spaces into mixed-use has proved to be very successful, as is the case for Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, development, it can take “10 to 15 years, to get to this point.”

“What we need is a faster system of recycling urban space.”


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