Sumary of Focus: Will leisure take lead from retail in ‘changing of the guard’ on UK High Streets?:
- Debenhams collapsed, retailers including John Lewis have closed sites and pivoted focus online, and just this month US fashion giant Gap confirmed it plans to close all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland and go online-only.
- They say that these “competitive socialising” and immersive leisure experiences – think everything from bowling to crazy golf, e-gaming rooms or London’s latest offering of indoor cricket nets – are what will draw younger generations to High Streets along with hospitality, not bricks and mortar retail.
- READ MOREThere are also now many newly-vacated spaces in town centres around the country for leisure firms to pursue, owned by landlords who are keen for tenants.
- Listed bowling giant, Hollywood Bowl, and budget fitness firm PureGym are among leisure firms already planning expansion in vacated retail sites on High Streets or in retail parks.
- Lifelong leisure sector fan Michael Harrison is the co-founder of Gravity Active Entertainment.
- The company, which is backed by Guinness Asset Management and has 22 sites across the UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia, is about to open a 100,000 square foot entertainment hub inside the former Wandsworth Debenhams store.
- Harvey Jenkinson and Michael Harrison at a Gravity site / GravityOn August 7 his team will throw open the doors to the immersive entertainment complex, which is aimed at both families and corporates and has offerings including super-speed electric go-karts, 16 bowling lanes, VR gaming, e-darts, restaurants and a 60ft bar.
- Areas will have themes, with an old shopping centre escalator area taking visitors from Japan to lower West Side New York.