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The High Street is on Life Support. What is the Prognosis and the Prescription?

Posted on 2 June 2014

Mishcon de Reya hosted a high level roundtable debate, "The High Street is on Life Support. What is the Prognosis and the Prescription?" The Minister for High Streets, Brandon Lewis MP participated as a panellist alongside Andy Murphy, Retail Director, John Lewis Plc and Gary Yardley, Director, Capital & Counties.


The Future of the High Street
Mishcon de Reya
Estates Gazette

Peter Bill
Columnist, London Evening Standard

We are here tonight at Mishcon de Reya’s offices in Red Lion Square.  We gathered together a very high powered group of people from both the retail side and from the planning side and from the developer side.

I think what we would like to do tonight at the round table is to bring up some ideas from these people that will help the Minister, Brandon Lewis, formulate strategies for his new advisory board which is looking into the High Street.

Brandon Lewis MP
Minister for High Streets

Well, the High Street is definitely changing.  We can see that wherever we go around the country now.  It is not just retail anymore, we don’t go to the High Street to do our shopping and while we are there we grab a coffee, we now go there to spend time, we might be going there for lunch, for the bank or for getting a coffee and while we are there we do some shopping and that new change is actually quite important so there’s a lot of need for the High Street to change, not just for retail.  A mix of hospitality, leisure, having more residential in and around the town centre as well brings more footfall into the town centre and makes it what it really should be, what it always has been, the absolute heartbeat of a town and of a community.

Andrew Murphy
Retail Director, John Lewis plc

The biggest challenge is for High Street retailers today mainly concerning the impact of on-line trading and the fact that these traditional retailers have to figure out how to compete against that, either by differentiating really well or by joining in becoming omne channel and therefor investing huge amounts of money that would previously would have gone into store experience and shops and into IT.

Gary Yardley
Investment Director, Capital & Counties

I think brand identity for retail High Streets and shopping centres today is key, it’s all about place making it’s all about establishing a place where people want to come and spend time and have the full experience of the destination that you are providing.  So, it’s retail, its leisure, it’s whether you’re spending a £1.00 or a £1,000.00, you have got somewhere to come and somewhere to spend your time.

Mark Selby
Co-Founder, Wahaca

I think food operators have to have a responsibility to bring a bit of animation and creativity into what they are offering.  What we do is individually design from scratch and we bring in new innovative things into each restaurant.

Calum Ewing
Head of Property, Metro Bank

Banks are trying to be non-retail.  We want to be very retail.  We have got to give customers an experience, we have got to give them great service and we have got to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Daniel Farrand
Head of Planning, Mishcon de Reya

Residential use in the High Street is seen by many as a very good idea.  It brings footfall, it brings life, it brings activity.  Whether residential can deliver quite that much without losing so many shops that you undermine the High Street itself is a different question.

Ben Munn
Managing Director, Enterprise Services, Regus

We are beginning to provide work options that are in retail locations whether that’s on the High Street or indeed in shopping malls.  So we believe that people will value having a choice and the convenience in a professional working environment.

Craig White
Retail Project Director, Argent LLP

Everyone around the table really emphasised the point that High Streets are desperate so it was about bringing the High Streets together, the ownership and the control and the stewardship of the High Street rather than just let it run its own economics.

Susan Freeman
Partner, Mishcon de Reya

It was an amazing discussion, very wide ranging, we could have gone on for another couple of hours, I think and we are already planning the next session.

The Future of the High Street

Mishcon de Reya 

Estate Gazette

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