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Retailer demand for Oxford Street shops picks up pace again after turbulent period

Oxford Street has had a turbulent few years  (Getty Images)
Oxford Street has had a turbulent few years (Getty Images)

Oxford Street was given a big boost earlier as figures showed retailers are queuing up to open new stores there, with more than 100,000 sq ft of deals in advanced negotiations.

After a challenging three and a half years for the famous shopping destination since the start of the pandemic —not helped by disruption last week when some social media videos urged people to turn up and cause disorder — the research shows that space there is still in hot demand.

Property consultancy CBRE found there are at least 10 stores under offer in Oxford Street. Firms set to sign leases are in a variety of retail sectors including fashion, tech and food and beverage.

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Coupled with 15 deals already inked this year with brands such as Footasylum and HMV, it marks the street’s busiest period for letting activity since early 2020.

New entrants will be welcomed as Oxford Street tries to bounce back from lockdowns that hammered footfall, and high profile names leaving such as Topshop. There have also been a spiralling number of tacky “eyesore” candy stores popping up.

Peter Flint, senior director of retail at CBRE said: “We continue to see strong competition for the very best stores, demonstrating that contrary to popular belief, there is clear appetite from retailers to showcase their brands on Oxford Street, benefiting from lower rates and rebased rents.”

He added: “Having a richly diverse mix of stores will add to the long-term viability of the street at a time in which it is undergoing significant transformation.”

Business group New West End Company’s leader Dee Corsi said: “What’s particularly exciting is the diversity of these deals, from returners to the street like HMV, to one of the UK’s fastest-growing brands Manière De Voir (fashion) choosing the street for its first physical store.”

Womenswear company Monsoon is among chains to be encouraged by 2023 trading. Nick Stowe, chief executive of Monsoon Accessorize, said: “Our Oxford Street location has seen a very strong performance this year, having benefited from a refit and also better traffic from the improved Tottenham Court Road station. The eastern end of Oxford Street has improved dramatically in recent years, and in some ways now feels better than the west, which is quite a change.”

But Stowe added that bringing back tax-free shopping for foreign visitors is a “no-brainer” in terms of tourist traffic.

The figures came as property group Great Portland Estates said it has acquired a portfolio of properties just on and off Oxford Street in a £70 million deal. It has bought the freehold interests at 16/19 Soho Square, 29/43 Oxford Street and 7 Falconberg Mews from Belgravia & Chelsea Property Services.

The deal values the properties at £772 per square foot and includes planning permission to demolish some buildings and construct up to 90,000 sq ft of office and retail space.

Alexa Baden-Powell, senior investment manager, said: “This acquisition represents a fantastic opportunity for us to develop a strategic West End freehold site into a best-in-class headquarters building with excellent sustainability credentials.”