North American retailers expansion through Europe


Our Executive Director, James Ebel has been instrumental in advising American retailers on their expansion into Europe. His clients include Forever 21, J.Crew, Microsoft, Samsung, West Elm, Google, Carolina Herrera and Orange Theory Fitness.


As he prepares for ICSC Deal Making in New York 2017 (At Jacob K.Javits Convention Center, New York City, December 6-7’ 2017) he would like to share some thoughts on his experience in handling North American retailers with their expansion through Europe.


James says “The first stop for American retailers is almost always the UK. Lack of language barrier and presence of a sophisticated retail and real estate market makes the UK the first choice for European expansion for American Retailers.


However, there are some challenges or pitfalls to be aware of. Firstly, there is the current landscape to navigate. The UK is mid Brexit and this has had an impact on many retailers rethinking their rate of expansion.  Secondly, UK has a high level of occupancy cost which is mainly due to high business rates contrary to other European countries.


Despite these issues we do believe we are best at helping new entrants to navigate these challenges. This is mainly due to our experience with so many entrants from North America we have dealt with.


In my dealings I do observe a pattern of retailers wanting to take on large floor plates as they do in America. It is important for them to recognise the high occupancy costs in the UK compared to North America. At Harper Dennis Hobbs we focus on working with retailers and understanding what our clients want.  With our foot firmly in their camp we offer them tailored advice best suited for their requirements.


Despite the current headwinds facing the global retail landscape I feel retail is not dead, it’s evolving.  We are seeing a trend developing towards experiential retailing. Customers want an experience when they shop. The internet hasn’t killed the high street as widely believed.  In fact, we see a trend of traditional online and pure play retailers now searching for stores on high streets and shopping malls so they are represented in that space too. Brand loyalty and the Halo effect are key considerations here.


To conclude, I would say there is opportunity for retailers to navigate the uncertainty by doing some forward thinking and identifying resilience and value to reap the rewards. With our expertise in the retail real estate landscape we can offer sound advice to retailers in this regard.


I will be at ICSC until Thursday and can be contacted on should you want to discuss how we can help.”


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