Discounters benefit from downsizing of major brands

A recent spate of downsizing amid major retailers has proved a silver lining for discounters, as new figures suggest budget chains are driving an increase in take-up at Scotland’s retail parks.

Savills heralds retail revolution as budget chain tenants appear to boost Scotland's retail parks. Picture: Greg Macvean

The latest report from property advisor Savills indicates that a bumper year of corporate retail failures has created opportunities for other brands away from the high street.

Notably, the number of units let on Scottish out-of-town retail centres totalled 82 in 2018, representing an 8 per cent rise on the long-term average.

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The firm attributes this primarily to discounters, with key companies driving out-of-town take-up activity including budget chains Aldi, Lidl, The Range, Home Bargains, Iceland/Food Warehouse and B&M, in addition to a number of bulky goods retailers.

The administrations and company voluntary arrangement (CVA) plans undertaken by several high profile brands released vacant retail park spaces onto a “constrained” market, according to the study.

The property advisor dubbed 2018 “the year of the CVA” as brands such as Carpetright, New Look and Homebase embarked on store closure programmes, while the like of Maplin, Toys R Us and Fabb Sofas fell into administration.

It also reported a number of new entrants into the Scottish market, with homeware retailer Homestore & More securing its first UK stores at Craigleith Retail Park in Edinburgh and Mavor Avenue in East Kilbride during the last year.

Sam Arrowsmith, associate director in Savills research team, said retail parks had shown some immunity to the well documented woes experienced by the high street.

He said: “Unlike the retail failures we saw after the global financial crisis, the events of 2018 show signs of a retail revolution rather than a recession.

“With the endless negative press coverage around CVAs you would be forgiven for thinking the out-of-town retail market was in distress.

“In reality only roughly 3 per cent of units in the UK out of town market were affected by either a CVA or administration in 2018.”

Mike Spens, director of the out-of-town retail team at Savills in Scotland, added: “Retail parks in particular are host to a number of retailers that offer products that customers want to inspect before buying – furniture, carpets, kitchens, bedrooms – and this is one reason why we believe, despite the ongoing negative headlines, retail parks continue to serve a much needed purpose in an affordable context.”