Reinventing Retail: The resurgence of retail in the Midlands

Reinventing Retail: The resurgence of retail in the Midlands

The announcement of the UK’s decision to leave the EU shook the world of retail as the industry asked questions and how it would cope in the face of Brexit and the tightening of trade for the UK economy.

Despite this, the Midlands has enjoyed a steady growth of retail stores — a trend that helped the argument that Brexit doesn’t spell the end of the retail industry. What it does, however, is show the need to reevaluate retail strategies and adapt to the needs of the ever-changing economy. Let’s face it, there will always be a need for the physical presence of stores, so it’s important to analyse how to grow in the competitive market. As stated by Andy Lyon, head of retail at PwC in the Midlands,“It’s encouraging to see the high street holding up – and even rallying in some cases”.

The ever-present need for physical

The increase of online purchases and a tough economy have seen many retailers take a long, hard look at their store portfolios”. Developments such as Apple’s new 22,000sq ft store in New Street and Primark’s acquisition of the former Pavilion shopping centre highlights the importance of physical presence for retailers at a time dominated by the online shopping experience.

As pioneers of the market, Lightspeed, Sage, and KRCS are reinventing retail in a market now defined by customer experience. Together, we look at ways retail in the Midlands has grown despite the early pressures of Brexit and economical changes as retailers have evolved to make the most of opportunities created by these changes.

Midlands is the new gateway for retail

Birmingham, for example, is one city which has experienced this re-development of retail, highlighted by the HS2 — the new high-speed aimed at becoming the new backbone of the national rail network, linking London, the East Midlands and the north of England and providing fast connections between cities. Coupled with the migration of various London-based headquarters further north, this has given way to unprecedented levels of development, with this corporate endorsement giving a greater impetus to invest in the Midlands as it has continued to prove not to be as affected by Brexit as the capital:

  • The £150m redevelopment of New Street Station and Grand Central scheme
  • £50m redevelopment of the Mailbox, one of the city’s main retail outlets

The Retail Renaissance

This ‘retail renaissance’ of Birmingham and other areas of the Midlands owes much of its success to such ambitious projects which have paved the way for greater accessibility and a new type of shopping experience for local retailers, whilst encouraging larger retailers to also focus attention and pour resources in these areas.

Closures and openings of stored

The Local Data Company (LDC) revealed that within the first half of 2017, 175 shops opened on high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in the Midlands, alongside 167 closures — illustrating a balance of physical retail store development. The data revealed the East Midlands as the second highest region in the country for net change between openings and closures.

Openings and closures of multiple retailers by region across the top 500 GB town centres in H1 2017

Country Number of store openings Number of store closures H1 2017

net change

H1 2016 net change
English Region*
East Midlands 175 167 8 -21
East Of England 188 222 -34 -8
Greater London 636 679 -23 -164
North East 76 87 -11 -5
North West 174 184 -10 -35
Scotland 90 132 -42 -87
South East 349 374 -25 -90
South West 191 224 -33 -10
Wales 53 64 -11 -18
West Midlands 191 224 -33 -45
Yorkshire and the Humber 219 207 12 -20
Total 2,342 2,564 -222 -503

(Source: Local Data Company)

A new retail giant?

Despite the prominence of online shopping, the East and West Midlands are enjoying unprecedented levels of development in the retail industry, influenced by major redevelopment and the onset of digital, breathing new life into the market. With such a blurred line between online and in-store, it is necessary for those retailers chasing success to adapt to the need to provide a seamless customer-centric journey.

To see reinventing retail in action, join us all at Spring Fair 2018, the UK’s no.1 trade show for the gift and home industry to gain insights into trends and network with the some of the industry’s leading minds. You can register for your free ticket here.


6 easy ways to motivate employees

6 easy ways to motivate employees

A new look for Lightspeed’s vendor returns

A new look for Lightspeed’s vendor returns