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Summer 2013 www.estatesgazette.com


LEISURE DIVERSIFICATION PLÄN B


As bricks-and-mortar retailers see sales transfer from physical stores to the internet, is now the time for them to invest in leisure concepts? Mark Simmons reports


There is an unhappy irony in the fact that when coffee shop start-up Harris + Hoole (see box, p25) opened its first premises last year, it did so by taking over 13 still-warm premises formerly occupied by failed retailer Clinton Cards. Doubly ironic, perhaps, is that the


leisure operator went into partnership with another retailer – Tesco – after attempts to raise seed capital from traditional lenders proved fruitless. The furore following the suggestion that Tesco’s £2m investment had been kept under wraps diverted attention away from what the food retailer was up to. That became clearer in March when


Tesco made an unambiguous announcement that it had spent nearly £50m on restaurant chain Giraffe. Writing on a Tesco blog, group commercial director Kevin Grace pointed to the restaurants in Westfield’s shopping centres: “The brands are accessible yet aspirational and the comfortable dining space allows customers to relax, socialise, recharge. It’s not an afterthought – it is central to their offer. There is no reason that supermarkets can’t offer something similar here.” What is different, and so far unique,


about Tesco’s approach is that it bought a leisure operator outright. Murmurs that other retailers might consider doing the same surfaced after Inter IKEA Group’s specialist property subsidiary Inter Hospitality announced (in the same month as the Tesco/Giraffe purchase) that it will invest heavily in a new hotel chain, in partnership with Marriott.


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