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Retailers target smaller openings

A flexible approach to store design by big name retailers could signal a “significant development” for the under pressure sector.

John Lewis revealed it will be pushing ahead with the first of its new “flexible formats” this week. The stores allow expansion into spaces that were previously too small for the retailer by selling a selection of the full department store range.

The first is being developed in Exeter in partnership with property giant Land Securities, which described it as a “significant development for John Lewis, for Exeter and for the whole retail sector”. The retailer aims to open 10 such stores by the end of 2012.

Land Securities chief executive Francis Salway said the tactic would help retailers to consider new developments in sites previously seen as uneconomical.

He told CN: “I think a number of the successful retailers are trying new formats, new sizes of store, whether it be larger or smaller. This change represents an opportunity for us and we work hard to make sure we have got a good exposure to the retailers who are trying new formats.”

The trend promises to offer relief during a difficult time for retail development. The Experian summer forecasts for 2011-2013 said the retail and leisure sub-sectors will continue to suffer from low demand for new premises until 2013.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said the flexible approach to shop size provides the opportunity to open stores in more towns and cities across the UK, and tailor its retail offering to each location.

Mr Salway said Land Securities was working with supermarkets on a variety of formats, including Tesco in south Buckinghamshire and Morrisons in Croydon.

“I think the weaker retailers are shutting units in the weaker locations. The stronger retailers are predominantly taking a small number of additional stores, but are doing so in the best locations.”

In its interim management statement, Land Securities said it had stepped up activity in edge of town retail locations, with £275m of pipeline opportunities.


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