Foreign retailers flock to the UK

Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Whether it be with a view to the Olympic tourist influx or our changing face of retail and nod to globalisation, but suddenly foreign retailers seem to be honing in on the UK market. Recent retailers to set up shop here include US brand, Forever 21, first opening in Birmingham, then Oxford Street and now occupying their largest space in Westfield Stratford, whilst Hollister is another US brand cashing in on UK retail trade. The British American fashion crossover is one long popular for sake of language, culture and employment law similarities.

However, with our new retail landscape pointing ever more to globalisation, retailers from further afield are also coming to British shores. From Italian shoe specialists, Carlo Pazolini, Portuguese fashion brand, Sacoor Brothers, and Spanish accessories brand, Coolway, who have all opened up UK territories, recently. Further East, Japanese labels, Uniqlo and Silas, are also making a presence in London and beyond and Dutch jeweller have been busy unveiling a roll out of stores across Britain.

On the face of it, a trend for global firms to invest in the UK seems bizarre when many domestic retailers are closing stores and struggling for sales but for every prime unit vacated by a struggling UK retailer there is a thriving international business ready to take its place.

The change is, perhaps, because where brands were geographic specific, now they are increasingly international in nature, so it doesn’t matter where trading is taking place. Beyond that, foreign firms are also snapping up thriving UK companies; for example Kurt Geiger, Jones the Bootmaker and Schuh have been bought out by US based, Jones Group, Dutch company, Macintosh and US group, Genesco respectively.

Gareth Iley, Consumer and Retail Specialist at Clearwater Corporate Finance, says, “A corporate appraisal on those businesses will tell potential buyers that if they have performed that well during a downturn they must be good companies. These were not cheap acquisitions but they were safer acquisitions because it was easier to see how these businesses can still trade strongly in a poor market.”

It’s a trend that is looking to continue; Iley says this crumbling of international barriers should be embraced with foreign retailers able to pump money back into the UK industry. “In a global world this is healthy for the UK economy because it shows that this country is a good place to do business. Investment will follow creating more jobs. There’s masses of potential for UK retailers to get their act together and take opportunities overseas themselves.”

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