Last week, we delved into the importance of introducing great retail and amenity to communities, to help create interesting destinations that people want to experience again and again. In the latest blog of our retail series, we discussed with our Head of Retail and Amenity, Toby Sproll, how Bruntwood works with customers to help them grow, not only to benefit their own business, but also for the enjoyment of the people within their cities.
In the UK, a third of our consumer spending goes on retail; with all that money being spent, it’s hoped we would be spending it on something good, right? That’s why at Bruntwood, we partner with the right businesses to bring quality products that are desirable for our cities and the people within them.
A strong partnership approach is something that runs throughout Bruntwood as a business, and it is no different when it comes to our retail and leisure space. Great retail space providers should develop a thorough understanding of a retailer’s business, working with them, hand-in-hand, throughout the lifecycle of that business to help them grow and achieve the best outcomes.
“For me, it’s about getting to know an amazing operator and understanding what's important to them, because although we have a significant retail portfolio, we can also create space that might not have existed otherwise,” says Toby. “It gives us the opportunity to work with some really exciting entrepreneurial people and develop space that they may not have thought was an opportunity for them.”
We have worked with customers across our regions of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Cheshire to develop new ideas; a great example of this being R&H Fine Wines in Liverpool. Based at the historic Queen Avenue, R&H Fine Wines is the only independent fine wine merchant in the city centre. Working with owner Devin Stewart, we were able to suggest changes to the existing space, which was originally an office, to transform the unit into a retail space. “When it was time to open the doors, I had a wine shop kit ready to go, and consequently the shop fit out cost me a grand total of £25,” said Devin.
It’s through thinking outside of the box, like this, that we can create new opportunities for businesses that once might not have seemed feasible, allowing customers to expand, or even begin, a new business venture.
As an owner and developer of property, it’s not about simply letting a space; it's about building a long-term relationship with the retailer or leisure customer so that if they succeed, we succeed. “We have an ongoing dialogue about how we can work together so that our respective business interests are aligned,” says Toby. “That can be anything from dealing with the housekeeping, to talking about growth ambition and other opportunities nearby. It’s a long term approach that isn't just based upon renting.”
Through our relationship as a long-term partner, and our day-to-day work behind the scenes, we’re able to give our customers more time to concentrate solely on what's most important to them. “We'll always have discussions about how things are going and how things may need to change, so that we can support them in the ever-changing retail environment,” explains Toby. Having these conversations with businesses at every stage of their journey means, as a team, we can help them with everything from the inception of the business, planning at ideas stage and growth plans if they want to scale up.
This ability to grow is true for any business, be them a small independent or a more established national or international brand. “We're able to work with all of those retailers and provide them with opportunities within our portfolio,” says Toby. “Creativity and innovation are really important to us, and we love working with great partners.” This is especially the case as we blur the lines between our retail, leisure and office space. By bringing Second City Coffee and Heart & Graft into our buildings, we are giving them the opportunity to grow their business, test ideas and bring amenity into our spaces for the benefit of the communities within our buildings.
“My hope is through this trialing of ideas, those passionate, inspiring people are able to refine what they're doing and grow that business elsewhere,” says Toby. This is something we’ve seen happen for customers such as Changos. The burrito bar was just an idea when they opened their first store St James' in Manchester city centre. “Through blood, sweat and tears, the team there have created a business where the queues are regularly out of the door and they have been able to open a second unit with us in Liverpool,” explains Toby.
As well as helping businesses to expand, “growth is also about giving existing and potential customers the chance to work with some great, new ideas and carve out opportunities that they may never have got,” says Toby. This is something that is being seen particularly at our new retail and leisure destination, Hatch. Starting life in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Takk has expanded in Manchester over many years and will be joining us in our University Green development later this year.
With us, they have recently grown into Hatch opening both an espresso bar, but also venturing into the world of beer with Öl, a nanobrewery and bar. “As soon as we sat down with Bruntwood, they seemed to understand that we were an independent and the benefits of engaging with independents, but also the challenges that come with that,” said Takk owner, Philip Hannaway. “Bruntwood recognise that if you experiment with something and it goes really well, you might take that over to another development.” Through giving small businesses the opportunity to grow their business and product offer, you are able to give them the platform to grow that business even more in the future.
With flexible lease terms, retail units of every shape and size and a team dedicated to helping your business succeed, we offer the best solution to accessing the UK’s most thriving regional business communities.