Retail resilience in Mayfair and Belgravia helped by “waving rent in lockdowns”
London landlord Grosvenor’s end of year figures show a vacancy rate of just 3% across its Mayfair and Belgravia portfolio, versus the UK average – according to the British Retail Consortium - of 14%, having implemented initiatives such as rent waving during the lockdowns.
Grosvenor’s Tenant Investment Fund also saw 33 new businesses open their doors last year, which in Mayfair included the new Browns store at 39 Brook Street in spring 2021, as well as Les 100 Ciels Man luxury cashmere, Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare and haircare and Hannah London beauty treatments.
Belgravia welcomed spectacle maker Cubitts at 43 Elizabeth Street in December 2021, and also saw the likes of womenswear stores Beulah and Anna Mason open new businesses in the last year, as well as Papouelli children’s footwear, skincare expert Teresa Tarmey, and hair, beauty and wellness brand Hershesons.
Grosvenor’s growing partnerships with occupiers and delivery of innovative services that support their operations drove its leasing success in 2021, at a time where a quarter of the year was spent in lockdown and Omicron’s rise again shook business confidence in central London.
Amelia Bright, Executive Director at Grosvenor, commented: ‘In the past two years, we’ve worked hard to turn the concept of a landlord on its head and to make the choice of who occupiers contract with as important to them as the choice of street, connectivity and rent.
“When lockdowns hit our goal was that Mayfair and Belgravia would come out the other side as strong as when we went in, with shops and restaurants open and ready to welcome everyone back.
“Waving rent in lockdowns was a highly effective early intervention. But it’s really been our actions since then, like the Tenant Investment Fund, which have fundamentally changed the nature and number of the conversations we’re having.”
In 2020, Grosvenor confirmed it would selectively invest in tenants with new business ideas, and diversification strategies. Grosvenor approaches each investment opportunity on a case-by-case basis but has the ability to offer a range of partnerships from debt to equity. The flexible and innovative financing model enables businesses to expand and create new jobs. Also, its Tenant Investment Fund supports business expansion plans at a time when bank funding is constrained.
Grosvenor’s suite of services for occupiers is particularly directed at independent businesses which form around two-thirds of its retail and hospitality occupier base.
More widely, Grosvenor’s £1 billion development pipeline, much of which was progressed since the onset of COVID-19, aims to aid the evolution of Mayfair and Belgravia and the changing needs of residents, visitors and workers.
Short-term experiences like ‘Belgravia in Bloom’, ‘The Daily Dress Edit’, ‘The Ever After Garden’ and enhanced outdoor dining also supported re-openings and resilient footfall figures.
Bright added: “If we want to safeguard the long-term future of a place we need to nurture enterprise. And we know that that this formula works. Not only is vacancy at the levels you’d expect in a buoyant market, but in October 2020, half term footfall exceeded 2019 levels and, pre-Omicron, footfall on key streets in early Christmas trading was very encouraging.”