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UK retailers eye overseas expansion after Covid curbs ease

The Independent logo The Independent 03/07/2022 Henry Saker-Clark
Shopping stock © PA Archive Shopping stock

A surge of UK retailers are seeking to spread their wings and expand overseas amid a bounce-back in activity following the pandemic.

Experts at real estate advisory firm Colliers said demand for UK locations from international firms has also lifted higher as shopper demand remains resilient despite fears over cost-of-living pressures.

New data from Colliers revealed that 48% of its UK client businesses – which between them operate 7,255 UK stores – expect to open more international outlets.

UK retailers are particularly targeting the Australian market as the country’s economy continues to open up following the pandemic.

A number of retailers are targeting European nations such as Italy despite Brexit regulations.

Our research shows the multifaceted strength of the UK retail market as both a consistent safe haven for retailers to establish and grow their brands, as well as being a credible springboard from which established UK brands can expand overseas.

Paul Souber, Colliers

Video: Why are COVID cases rising in UK? (Sky News)

Footwear giant Dr Martens told the PA news agency last month that it is eying significant growth opportunities in Italy and Germany instead of further UK expansion.

Paul Souber, co-head of retail at Colliers, said: “Our research shows the multifaceted strength of the UK retail market as both a consistent safe haven for retailers to establish and grow their brands, as well as being a credible springboard from which established UK brands can expand overseas.

“Buoyed by the unrivalled reputation of London’s retail scene as a trendsetting metropolis, we are seeing some of the UK’s most loved brands spreading their wings to open stores for the first time outside of the UK.

“Meanwhile, Colliers’ international enquiries tracker reveals that there is currently over three million sq ft of requirements from over 27 countries looking to the UK capital to establish a foothold in the thriving London retail market.”

It said its survey data showed that 86 international operators are now keen to move into the UK market for the first time.

It said around a third of these are from the US and keen to take advantage of retail property opportunities after prices dropped in key areas, such as central London, following the pandemic.

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