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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : May 16, 2013

British Land: UK retail stores must adapt or die

British retail stores must adapt or die, according to property investors British Land, who called stores that could not be adapted as "essentially obsolete".

by Helen Leggatt

british land.gifBritish Land announced its full-year results this week. Reporting a fall in its full-year profits the property investors cited the "twin challenges" of lower consumer spending and the growth of online sales.

Retail assets make up 60% of the British Land portfolio with around 29 million square feet of retail space, across 80 retail parks, 91 superstores, 17 shopping centers and 13 department stores.

The company stressed that physical stores remained crucial to UK retail but that they must keep up with the times and technology by changing and expanding their use. Digital and mobile must be integrated into the store experience, they said, with stores becoming showrooms as well as pick-up and return points.

"The way people shop is changing," says British Land. "The Internet lies at the heart of these changes not only because of the immediacy of being able to buy online but also because of the way it enables consumers to compare prices and quality, share their opinions and shape the development of new products and services. The line between online and physical sales is getting increasingly blurred with the majority of sales more likely to have some sort of digital aspect."

Following a deal with British Telecom, free wi-fi will be provided to shoppers throughout the company's shopping centers, starting this Autumn. British Land says the free connection will allow new innovations and trials such as Google Indoor Maps and Centre Buzz, a digital CMS for shopping centers.

Tags: brick-and-mortar, digital, mobile, retail industry, retailer trends, shopping center, UK

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