Exciting trends in retail real estate promise a world of opportunities

While future Olympic venues London and Rio de Janeiro gear up for a retail boom, big-name US shops cross the pond and other retailers look online and go mobile.

Olympian feats

In Brazil, officials in Rio de Janeiro are getting ready for the 2016 Olympic Games with the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, an emblematic complex which boasts an area of 1.18 million m2 and will hold 15 different types of sports during the games.

According to French-language website Urban News, after the Olympic Games, new retail, commercial and hotel real estate ventures will be built around the permanent sporting facilities, forming an area that will be a benchmark in planning and sustainability for the city.

But before the Games rock Rio, they’ll be rolling in London. And that means retail opportunities abound. Touted by the Daily Mirror as a “seven-mile shopping spree,” the £1.45 billion Westfield Stratford City (WSC) is now open in London’s East End, offering Olympic tourists and Londoners 300 stores, 70 restaurants, a 17-screen cinema, three hotels, a casino and a bowling alley spread over more than 175,000 m2. It carries the title “largest urban shopping centre in Europe” and even has its own postcode!

“The Olympics will give millions a taste of what it’s like here and bring a new audience to the East End,” WSC director John Burton told the Mirror. “Once they’ve seen what we have to offer, then hopefully they’ll come back again and have a proper look.”

London: always avant-garde

Not to be outdone by the East Enders, Grimshaw Architects have taken the retail experience to a whole new level across town on Oxford Street, with a portable retail environment built for John Lewis and launched on September 5. The space will host designer collections before touring other John Lewis branches across England.

The modular space fuses exhibition design and architecture with cardboard tubes suspended in clear Perspex form. This design means that the space can be dismantled, and re‑constructed in different stores. After two months in the London store, it will travel to outlets in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool, and more, over 18 months.

Virtual window-shopping

And if that isn’t enough to keep Londoners interested, the One New Change shopping complex in London’s Cheapside quarter offers something unique to online shoppers: a “virtual shop window” featuring images and barcodes from innovative online retailer Ocado‘s most popular items.

Biz Report had the details: A temporary “pop up” store was created by wallpapering the window frontage with images of the store. Ocado On the Go is a web and mobile app that allows customers to scan products on the posters, add them to online shopping baskets, and arrange for delivery.

Biz Report wrote that 15% of Ocado transactions happen via mobile, but the company expects these numbers to increase after the “pop up” campaign winds down. “We hope this trial is a hit, and based on its success, we’ll be looking at options around continuing this ‘virtual window shopping’ approach in other locations UK-wide,” Jason Gissing, co-founder of Ocado, told Biz Report.

Flying the stars and stripes abroad

American retailers are also looking to the UK for new opportunities. Retail Traffic Magazine reported that companies including American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 are all planning new stores in the UK. Another positive development: New York-based women’s wear brand Kate Spade signed up for a 10-year lease on a Sloane Square store, which will open this month.

Retail property expert Hugh Radford at DTZ explained the city’s attractiveness to the magazine: “London is a safe bet to begin expansion if you are an overseas retailer. It is seen as a stepping stone to Europe for the US retailers and vice versa for European retailers. There are plenty of opportunities for retailers to expand here.”

And that stone is already getting stepped on. Paris’ Champs Elysees will soon welcome its first Banana Republic Store, opening in early December, 2011. Market Watch reports that the Paris flagship will represent the most contemporary expression of the brand globally, with 1,482 m2 spread over two floors.

Image: RachelH_

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