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Property Week: New joint venture set to revitalise department stores
January 24, 2020

Quadrant has teamed up with Mark Phillipson, Colliers International’s ex-head of retail, to launch a joint venture that aims to breathe new life into struggling department stores, Property Week can reveal.

In the week that Beales, one of the UK’s oldest department store chains, collapsed, Quadrant Repurpose unveiled plans to partner with retailers and landlords to revitalise department stores.

As well as looking to improve the existing retail offer, the joint venture will convert stores, either in part or their entirety, to other uses. Potential new uses for redundant space include residential, hotels, leisure and healthcare.

The joint venture intends to acquire assets outright as well as work on behalf of other landlords and retailers.

“It will not be viable to transform all stores facing redundancy, but Quadrant Repurpose can assess their viability and bring together the expertise and capital repurposing demands, from planning through to development,” said Phillipson, who is continuing to work for Colliers as a consultant after stepping down as head of retail last week.

Phillipson has set up his own investment and asset management business, Eccleston Capital, which forms half of the 50:50 joint venture with Quadrant, formerly known as Quadrant Estates.

Quadrant founding partner Christopher Daniel said: “It is clear that huge swathes of redundant retail property urgently need to be repurposed for new uses. If the UK’s high streets and town centres are to be revitalised, this will be an essential part of the process.”

Daniel added that Quadrant’s track record of development across the retail, residential and office sectors gave the venture the “perspective and expertise” to manage the complexities of repurposing. “This is a compelling offer at a time of significant need,” he said.

Phillipson added: “The UK has more than 1,000 department stores with a huge footprint in urban locations across the country and a substantial proportion of these stores face the prospect of no longer having a retailing future. For example, more than 50 former BHS stores still remain vacant three years after the retailer ceased trading.”

According to the Local Data Company, the UK has 1,189 department stores. An estimated 245 have closed since 2012, including stores previously occupied by BHS, House of Fraser, Debenhams and Woolworths.

Many are in prominent town and city centre locations and they range in size from 50,000 sq ft to 500,000 sq ft.

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