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27 Apr 2022

London’s iconic West End presents opportunities for Asian brands in the retail sector to thrive and grow

New investment data from London & Partners, the business growth and destination agency for London, shows that London is the leading global city for international retail businesses. Over the past five years, the UK capital has attracted a total of 460 retail trade inward investment projects: significantly more than any other destination city, ahead of Paris (256), New York (249) and Singapore (188).

 

Global businesses are reaping the returns of investment in the market, with the majority coming from the US and European countries which take up the top 10 source countries for retail expansion into the capital. Japan is the only Asian market to claim a spot among the top 10, ranking at joint ninth place with Denmark, while South Korea and Hong Kong rank 24th and joint 26th place respectively, demonstrating an untapped potential for retail businesses from Asian markets to expand their footprint in London.

 

London is an attractive destination for Asian businesses across all sectors, with 41 inward investment projects worth a total of £1.14 billion coming from the country between 2016 and 2021. Furthermore, the new data shows that London has seen more retail trade inward investment over the past five years than Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul combined. London can offer substantial growth potential for Asian brands outside of the Asian market, especially those offering concepts in consumer sectors, such as food & beverage, retail, leisure, arts, culture and entertainment, which contribute to the globally diverse consumer offerings found in London that attract millions of high spending visitors each year.

 

London’s iconic West End is a major draw for overseas consumer businesses, with the district attracting 200 million visitors a year and an annual spend of £10 billion pre-pandemic. The area is home to over 250 flagship stores, with presence of well-known consumer brands from Asia including Uniqlo, Onitsuka Tiger, Din Tai Fung and Samsung. There is now a unique window of opportunity for exciting and cutting-edge consumer-facing businesses to be part of the West End’s future story, as highly coveted retail space has become uniquely available post-pandemic, in well-known districts such as Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, Bond Street, Piccadilly and Covent Garden.

 

Success stories of some of the consumer businesses with Hong Kong influence include that of Dumplings Legend, a restaurant based in Soho, founded by Hong Kong-born Geoff Leong. Calvin Hui and Mark Peaker, the founders of 3812 Gallery opened their flagship London location in 2018, which through thoughtfully curated art programmes aims to foster cultural understanding of Chinese contemporary art. Looking ahead to 2023, the city eagerly awaits the opening of iconic Hong Kong hospitality brand The Peninsula new hotel: The Peninsula London in the heart of Belgravia.

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