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Market Commentary

Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 02 March, 2015

Primark reports strong Christmas, as new retailers open flagship stores on Regent Street

Associated British Foods (ABF) has revealed that Primark had a strong Christmas, and that interim sales will likely come in 16% higher, driven by an 11% increase in store openings. LFL sales will be flat compared to last year, having been restrained by the warm autumn. The company noted that Primark’s French operations have been thriving. "All five French stores that opened over the last year have traded well,” said a spokesperson, who added that expansion plans are continuing to advance.

In other positive news, two luxury food and one jewellery retailers announced the opening of their flagship stores in Regent Street this week. T2 Tea, the Australian tea retailer, has exchanged on a 15 year lease one of three new retail units in Great Portland Estate’s 290 Regent Street. The new flagship West End store will be T2's fourth in London. Luxury chocolate boutique Hotel Chocolate has also agreed a deal to open a new flagship London store in the building with an agreed 15 year lease. In addition, Spanish jeweller Uno de 50 is set to launch its first store in the UK at 143 Regent Street from April, after agreeing a 10 year lease with The Crown Estate. This demonstrates London’s strength as Europe’s top retail destination.

In other news for the leisure sector, the owner of Odeon and UCI cinemas has announced plans to put the chain up for sale later this year, with an asking price of about £1bn. Private equity group Terra Firma said it aimed to start the sale process by May. Stuart Burdon-Bailey, Director in JLL's out of town Retail and Leisure team, comments on the announcement: "There may be some surprise in the market that Terra Firma have put Odeon up for sale now, rather than waiting towards the end of 2015 for the benefit to profit of the projected increase in cinema ticket sales for this year. It is difficult to predict who will purchase the company as interest will come from many quarters.”

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