Dubai closes gap with London among international retailers

London remains the top city in the world for global brands, with 57.9 per cent of international retailers present in the UK capital. Dubai, though, is closing the gap, with 57 per cent of retailers now present in the emirate.

Both are followed by Shanghai (54.4 per cent), New York (46.6 per cent) and Singapore and Moscow joint 5th (46 per cent).

Overall, new cross border retail activity grew modestly in 2015 with the number of new entrants at city level up by 3.1 per cent, according to CBRE. Retailers focussed on a diverse set of markets in the same time period with 90 per cent of the surveyed cities seeing at least one new entrant in 2015, while 3 in 10 markets saw at least 10 new brands open a store.

London also became the second most desirable city in Europe for new retailers with a total of 39 brands entering the city with over half of all new entrants originating from either France or the US. The Food & Beverage sector was the main driver of that increase. (Hong Kong is the number one market for new entrants, attracting 73 new brands in 2015.)


“Despite the perceived high rental levels and fierce competition for limited space, the UK and indeed London remain key global destinations for retailers looking to expand their store networks,” comments Hugh Radford, Chairman of London Retail, CBRE. “With 39 brands launching stores in 2015 alone, it continues to be the most penetrated city for international retailers looking to develop their portfolios.”

In recent years, though, other cities, such as Dubai and Shanghai, have tried to close the gap on London. Dubai last year saw 38 new retailers launch stores, with the majority of new brands originating from Europe and the US.

Nicolas Maclean, Managing Director, CBRE Middle East region, comments: “Due to the economic situation in many home markets, retailers are continuing to look for alternative locations in order to drive future expansion capacity and Dubai continues to offer retailers a viable option to more mature markets without some of the risk normal associated with an emerging market.”

It is a sign of Spain’s improving economy and strengthening commercial property market that Madrid also entered the top target markets for the first time in 2015, with 23 new entrants.

“Many retailers put their expansion plans for Spain on hold during the economic crisis and this alone has created opportunities for other brands who have taken advantage of the attractive rents and prime high street space, where availability is usually scarce,” comments CBRE. This demand has led to the historical high street retail areas being extended in the Spanish capital, as well as in Barcelona.