Shaftesbury’s leasing success highlights the enduring appeal of its West End villages

Shaftesbury has announced it has signed over 60 new retail, hospitality and leisure brands in Carnaby, Seven Dials, Chinatown, Soho and Fitzrovia since 1 October 2020. The strength of demand from operators also coincides with the rapid recovery in footfall and sales across its locations and represents a vote of confidence in their long-term appeal and prospects.

33 new retailers have joined Shaftesbury’s villages, of which 23 were brands making their debuts in the UK, including six from the US: LIDS, NBA, American Eagle and Aerie, Third Man Records and Gilly Hicks. They join new concepts including L’Estrange, Experimental Perfume Club, White Pine, Cole Buxton, Aubin, and Danish fashion retailer, Han Kjobenhavn. Of the debuts, nine were online brands opening their first bricks-and-mortar stores, including Bloobloom, the French eyewear brand.

29 new hospitality operators have taken space in Shaftesbury’s locations, offering 18 different cuisines, including Portuguese, French and Pan Asian. Highlights include Istanbul-inspired Zahter in Carnaby; Anita’s, a gelato concept from Israel on Upper St Martin’s Lane; Japanese robata concept Yatay in Chinatown; and Carousel in Fitzrovia, in its first permanent location featuring a rotating chef’s table, wine bar, restaurant, event space and dark kitchen. In addition, three of the new venues are bars and live music venues, including Nightjar, a live music jazz bar in Kingly Court.

Operators are focusing on Shaftesbury’s carefully curated, high profile villages, as footfall continues to rise and retail and F&B spending bounces back. Weekend footfall is currently at or above 2019 levels, while weekdays are at approximately 80%. Data from CACI and Location Sciences indicates Shaftesbury’s locations are outperforming the wider West End, where the volumes of people are currently at 72% of pre-Covid levels.[1]

Samantha Bain-Mollison, Retail Director, said: “The level and quality of demand for space from such great brands and concepts reflects the strength of our portfolio and speed of its recovery following the lifting of pandemic restrictions. The 33 new retailers to have signed this year have added something different to our villages, reinforcing their positions as exciting West End shopping destinations and contributing to London’s status as a global city for retail.”

Julia Wilkinson, Restaurant Director, added: “The hospitality sector has demonstrated its creativity and energy as it emerges from the pandemic, with new F&B and leisure concepts launching, and more established operators diversifying across our villages. These new additions add to the existing mix of cuisines and experiences in Chinatown London, Carnaby, Soho and Seven Dials to create fantastic food destinations that appeal to visitors, local workers and residents. As tough as it has been, the sector has turned a corner, which is wonderful to see.”

This round-up of Shaftesbury’s retail and hospitality leasing since 1 October 2020 follows the announcement of its 2021 annual results. Published on 30 November, they reported significant progress on the road to recovery for its 16-acre West End portfolio, which includes over 600 restaurants, shops, cafes, pubs and bars, across 1.1 million sq. ft. of space.