Fit for purpose: Part 4 - for the love of location

23 October, 2009
Page 20 

If we were to believe the overused adage location, location, location, we often assume that this is critical to success, but how important is it? When the high street was the hub of every town, location was important and people would purchase their weekly provisions from local retailers because convenience was king, bread, bacon and broccoli all easy to find and simple to purchase.

Yet due to the superior intelligence of our own breed and the increasing mobilisation of the population, times have changed for better and for worse. The high street isn't what it used to be and the swathes of space outside towns are no longer as green as they used to be. The retail park boom, built to use cheap land and designed to offer even more convenience, foil-fresh bread and a bread maker, took customers away from the high street and, with it, most of its prime location status.

On a local scale, key locations do still exist and they have similarities whether you're in Glasgow, Newcastle or London. Their status comes from being at the heart of the spending population and is determined by footfall and customer type. At street level, these locations translate to being opposite a tube or Metro station, a corner site with a double aspect for increased visibility, adjacent to a bank or cash machine or within a transport hub, all of which have a positive impact on sales.

But not all retailers are cut out for locations that require large rents, increased risk and often without space for prep, let alone ovens. These sites are generally the domain of chains who can afford to risk a site, have a pre-packed offer and, if necessary, carry a loss leader if payback takes longer than expected. However, any given location ­really can work, so long as it has potential customers.

The success of any location is ultimately down to the success of the offer within it. The product, the service, the price and the store all have to offer value for money and there is no one-size-fits-all prime location. So location really is a fundamental part of any retail business, but only because it has to be the right location for the right business.

l Next month: the format of the store





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