With news that quirky stationery chain Smiggle is to open its first shop in a retail park at the end of the month and Card Factory eyeing up retail parks for its estate, will we see more stationers and card shops opening in these out-of-town locations?
In the past retail parks were all about big, bulky goods, such as furniture, DIY and electricals, but over the past decade the tenant has changed with a much wider mix of good and brands. Retail parks are an increasingly attractive option to retailers with free parking (and plenty of it) for customers, but also more space for loading and unloading goods. And in a big plus, business rates are often less than on the high street. It’s no wonder then that more and more traditionally high street multiples are looking at retail parks in a favourable light.
Smiggle – the edgy Australian stationery brand, which also sells its own brand of greeting cards – is to open a 1,000 sq ft unit on the Glasgow Fort retail park at the end of April. It’s the first out-of-town location for the retailers, which now trades from 90 stores in UK high streets and shopping centres since making its UK debut in 2014.
Smiggle is not the only retailer looking to increase its presence in retail parks. Paperchase too is understood to have also put in a bid for a site at Glasgow Fort.
Card Factory chief executive Karen Hubbard told Retail Week last month that the increasing availability of smaller units on retail parks has enabled the company to open up a small number of branches in these locations and that an enthusiastic customer response is prompting it to seek more. “The stores we’re opening on retail parks are doing really well,” said Karen. “We tend to find that customers are buying more because of things like car-parking.”
Meanwhile Cardzone is another greeting card specialist who has been lured by the high footfall that retail parks attract, having acquired 14 Hallmark Factory Outlet stores at the end of last year. The takeover has expanded Cardzone’s reach both geographically and strategically.