Happy shoppers: Why more retailers need to follow Hamleys’ lead and head North…
Birmingham has enjoyed a blast from the past this month with the revelation that luxury toy retailer Hamleys will be returning to the city after 30 years,
The store, which has long since been located in London, will open on October 21st at the popular Resorts World retail outlet village, further cementing the region’s attraction to premium retailers.
David Walton, head if retail, said: “Recent years have seen more and more retailers establish flagship stores in the second city rather than retain their exclusivity within the Capital, and it’s something we need more and more of to continue to build Birmingham’s reputation as a retail hub.
“Last week, Grand Central celebrated its first birthday and the centre released a whole host of stats to demonstrate how successful its first 12 months’ trading had been, but there’s always room for further investment and a more diverse range of both High Street and High End stores to attract more shoppers into the city, and to the West Midlands as a region as a whole.”
And that, too, looks to become a reality over time, after proposals to create a 130-store designer outlet village in Cannock were given the green light last week. Work won’t start for at least a year, but that won’t stop people clamouring to find out which big brands they’ll be able to splash their cash in when it finally opens.
S0, we have a fabulous new-look Harvey Nicholls and a swanky Selfridges store to rival those in the Capital, but what other retailers would we like to see launch in the city? We asked some of the Harris Lamb team how they think the city should continue to strengthen its retail reputation.
Suzi Marshall: “Fortnum and Mason would be a great brand to welcome to the city, premium brands like that shouldn’t be limited to the southern region. It would be fabulous to have the Holy Trinity of luxury department stores right here in Birmingham.
“Being from a horsey background, I’d also really like to see Patey – a very well known, high end riding hat/top hat shop – open here. I had to to travel to London to visit the small, bespoke store in order to get the hat that I compete in- it was a bit like Harry Potter going into Ollivander’s to choose his wand, and I think a very high-end exclusive shop like that would be a real coup for the city and encourage more specialised shoppers to visit as they seek out their niche products.”
Andrew Hulbert: “For me, it’s not actually about the big brands – we have some huge retailers but I think we lag behind comparable City Centre when it comes to independent niche retailers, specialising in anything from vintage clothing and furniture through to high end shoe specialists.
However things do seem to be improving, with the revamp of the Great Western Arcade and the opening up of Stephenson Street, Lower Temple Street and The Piccadilly Arcade.
For Birmingham to continue to thrive it must continue to attract both a mix of national retailer and independent retailers: this will make the city centre become a true National Shopping destination and capitalise on the success of Grand Central, New Street and the Midland Metro extension. The question is how can the City Council and City Centre landlords work together to encourage this kind of growth.”
Anji Steward: “Birmingham has a lot to offer shoppers but I’d still like to see some of those brands that have concessions in the luxury stores open boutiques in their own right, like Michael Kors did. It would be fantastic if high-end brand like Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, Russell and Bromley, Chanel or Alexander McQueen launched boutiques, encouraging more shoppers and weekend-visitors to come to the city rather than people leaving it to head to London.”