Changing consumer behaviour, Brexit, CVAs, business rates, barriers to financing and the recent mergers that have shaken up the industry were all covered at an event hosted by Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) and The British Property Federation (BPF) last week (4 October) which covered the key challenges facing the high street. 

'Retail therapy: how can we heal our high streets?' brought together industry experts, UK retailers, developers and financial services companies, to discuss the issues affecting UK high streets and the retail sector as a whole. 

The event included a presentation from keynote speaker Matthew Hopkinson, co-author of The Grimsey Review 2, who explained the importance of landlords, local authorities, retailers and other important pillars of society such as the health and transport service working together to create quality space on the high street and in town and city centres where people want to be. 

This was followed by a panel discussion with WBD Partner Tom Pringle; John Parmiter, Director at Future High Streets; Jonathan Stockham, Head of Estates at Specsavers; Gavin Maher, Director at Deloitte; and Sarah Fox, Head of Restaurants and Leisure at Hammerson. The discussion was chaired by John Ralph, Partner and Head of Real Estate at WBD. The panel agreed that in order for the high street to survive and prosper, there is a strong need for more collaboration between all stakeholders in towns and cities.

John Ralph, commented:

"We're delighted to have partnered with BPF on this successful event. Our long standing focus on the Real Estate and Retail Sectors, advising clients in those sectors on the issues they face, gives us excellent insight into the challenges they are experiencing."

"It was really interesting to get such a diverse range of thoughts and opinions from both the speakers and those in attendance. It was also encouraging to see a general consensus about what needs to happen to ensure we maintain vibrant and sustainable city centres fit for 21st century living."

Ranked in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD has had long standing recognition for its expertise in the retail and real estate sectors with an impressive client portfolio including Homes England, Akelius, Taylor Wimpey, Kingfisher, Decathlon and B&Q to name a few. WBD has expertise in 11 key sectors which it delivers from across eight offices in the UK and 18 offices in the US.