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Bill Grimsey launches high street review

The former head of Wickes, Iceland, Booker and Focus DIY, Bill Grimsey, has reopened the Grimsey Review of British retail, following on from his first research mission, published in 2013.

Grimsey’s clarion call for the high street was partly triggered by the collapse of Toys R Us and Maplin as multiples wrestle with daunting new reality of online retailing. Socio-political factors including ageing demographics will also be considered, alongside the costs and operating models of town centres.

There has been a huge change in shopping habits in the UK over the past ten years, with nearly £60bn spent via mobile devices in 2017 – more than £1 in every £6 spent on the high street. “Online has been a catalyst that has reinforced the fact that we have too many shops in the UK,” said Matthew Hopkinson, founder of retail consultancy DataIntel. He is one of six experts collaborating with Grimsey on the updated review. “Around 10% of the UK retail stock is surplus to requirements, which equates to about 50,000 stores.”

The revised edition of his Review, called An Alternative Future for the High Street, is due to be published on July 4. It will examine the impact of Brexit and new technologies upon the high street and suggest ways to reinvent bricks and mortar stores as community hubs.

Grimsey commented: “It is time to get this subject back on everyone’s agenda. Otherwise we will continue to sleepwalk into the remainder of the 21st century, leaving a legacy of ill-thought-out town centres and high streets to the next generation. Change is rapid and constant. This second review will act as an independent source of evidence and advice as to how the change should be managed.”