Charlotte Street Partners



Department stores, repurposed

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
1 December 2021

Good morning,

One of the things that struck me when I moved to Scotland was the number of repurposed buildings you can find at every turn.
This was especially true of churches, some of which have been turned into casinos, bars, and restaurants in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. Coming from a predominantly Catholic country where such makeovers would be regarded as little short of sacrilegious, engaging in any activity other than praying, confessing, or taking communion in a temple-turned-pub was a perplexing idea at first.
A similar sentiment can be observed in other countries. Take France, for instance, where church officials have voiced their opposition to plans to restore the damaged interior of Notre Dame Cathedral with a more “visitor-friendly experience” filled with modern art and ambience lighting, saying it would make an “ecclesiastical Disneyland” out of the historic Paris landmark.
Back in Scotland, repurposing is far from limited to church buildings, though. Department stores offer a less contentious and perhaps more timely case in point.
According to a new study by planning consultancy Nexus Planning titled Future: Department Stores48.5% of the department stores trading in Scotland in 2015 are still operating, with many being identified for redevelopment. The report highlights that almost 30% of these properties have been repurposed and more than 14% are currently – or will be – mixed-use.
For residents and visitors alike, nowhere is this more evident than in the Scottish capital, where developers have spotted a huge opportunity for repurposing former high street department stores. The most recent example is the old House of Fraser building on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, which was given a second lease of life last September with the opening of the Johnnie Walker visitor experience.
But that’s not the only department store redevelopment Edinburgh’s high street is set to witness. The former Debenhams store will undergo regeneration works to house a 207-room boutique hotel, restaurant, and rooftop bar after the council granted planning permission for its £50m transformation earlier this year.
Further along Princes Street, the old BHS building is also up for redevelopment, with a planning application being sought to turn the former department store into a mix of retail, hotel, restaurant, and rooftop space.
These redesigns have the potential of turning an ailing high street into a buzzing thoroughfare once again. While 21st-century department store brands attempt to find a new purpose in the age of online shopping, repurposing the buildings they once occupied is helping high streets find their own path to new glory days.


The prime minister has said the government will offer Covid-19 booster vaccines to everyone in England that is eligible by the end of January. Boris Johnson added that people will be invited to book a booster three months after their second jab, with 400 military personnel on hand to help the NHS and volunteers with the rollout. 
Jeffrey Epstein’s pilot has testified at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell that he flew high-profile men, including Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Kevin Spacey, to luxury locations worldwide in the disgraced financier’s private jet. Maxwell, who was described as “the number two” in Epstein’s operations, has denied the charges and said she is being used as a scapegoat for her long-term companion, who died in prison in 2019. 
Thousands of people in the north of England and Scotland have spent a fifth night without power after Storm Arwen left infrastructure devastated and affected around one million homes and businesses across the country. Earlier on Tuesday, calls for British troops to assist the engineers were made in the House of Commons, as ministers were criticised for failing to provide an update on the impact of the storm for a second successive day.

Business and economy

The chief executive of pharmaceutical company Moderna has said Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been previously, sparking fresh concerns about the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic. Stéphane Bancel added that the high number of mutations on the protein spike the virus uses to infect human cells meant it was likely the current crop of vaccines would need to be modified. 
The chair of the Federal Reserve warned on Tuesday that the emergence of the Omicron variant increases the uncertainty around inflation, posing new risks to the US economy. Jerome Powell, who called recent high rates of inflation transitory in the past, said the Fed will consider acting more quickly to dial back its ultra-low interest rate policies to counter higher inflation, which he acknowledged will likely persist well into next year.
EasyJet has seen “some weakening” in bookings amid concerns over travel restrictions since the Omicron variant was identified. However, the budget airline, which reported a loss before tax of £1.1bn for the year to 30 September, said it still expects passenger numbers to return to close to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the summer.

Columns of note

Following Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle, Rafael Behr argues in The Guardian that Labour’s best route to power is coalition, whether the party likes it or not. Only by winning a majority could Starmer appease critics in the left-wing Labour faction that mistrusts his methods, but that scenario, Behr maintains, is highly unlikely. The author concludes that the more feasible route to No 10 would be collaboration with smaller parties, an idea to which the British public might prove surprisingly receptive.
In The Scotsman, Brian Ferguson writes that Scotland needs to step up its studio game to capitalise on the film and TV boom. With Scottish locations firmly in the shop window in the run-up to Christmas thanks to recent long-form productions, Ferguson opines that the country, which is now short of available studio space, should find new bases for filming to avoid losing out on new opportunities.


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed lower on Tuesday after the chief executive of Moderna cast doubt over the efficacy of vaccines against the Omicron Covid variant. The FTSE 100 closed down 0.7% at 7,059.45.
In the US, stocks were also in the red after the Fed chair signalled that he would support faster monetary tightening by the US central bank. The S&P 500 dropped two per cent, while the tech-focused Nasdaq closed down 1.6%.
In company news:
EasyJet was down 1.73% even after the budget airline reported a better-than-expected annual loss and said it expected capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the current fiscal year.
Real estate investment trust Shaftesbury fell by 3.44% despite restoring its progressive dividend policy and reporting improving trends and a narrower annual loss.
Micro Focus slumped by 7.86% after the IT business said it was targeting up to $500m of cost cuts and at least flat revenue by the end of 2023 as the company seeks to turn its business round.
Future surged by 12.28% after the media group anticipated adjusted results for FY22 to be “materially above” current expectations.

What’s happening today?

Etalon S
Gabelli Merger

Interim results
Tpximpact Hldg
Redde Northgate
Liontrust Asset Management
Peel Hunt
D4t4 Solutions
Custodian Reit

Int economic announcements
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:00) Construction Spending (US)
(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(08:55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index
(09:30) PMI Manufacturing

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The last time all living humans were on Earth together was 2 November 2000. The International Space Station has been continuously occupied ever since. (Source: @UberFacts)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
President of COP26 (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Quarries (Planning)
Committee of the Whole House: Finance (No. 2) Bill
125th anniversary of Shotton steelworks

House of Lords 

Oral questions
When water companies will be required to deliver the first stage of reductions in the level of sewage discharged into rivers and the sea
Benefits of early years interventions on peoples’ welfare and social mobility
Amending the requirements of the driving test for HGV drivers
Current ambulance response times
Report from the Procedure and Privileges Committee ‘Speakers’ lists for oral questions and ‘Secretary of State’ questions; Divisions: passreaders’ – motion to approve and motions to regret
Report from the Liaison Committee ‘Designation of responsible committee of the House of Lords for the purposes of section 3 of the Trade Act 2021’
Report from the Liaison Committee ‘New committee activity in 2022’
Orders and regulations
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) Regulations 2021
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2021
Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill – report stage
Orders and regulations
School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (England) Order 2021 (SI 2021/1101) – motion to regret
National Insurance Contributions Bill – second reading

Scottish parliament 

Portfolio Questions
Justice and Veterans
Finance and the Economy
Scottish Labour Party Debate
Protecting Patient Safety at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
Action on Active Ventilation in Schools
Members’ Business
S6M-02100 Jamie Greene: World AIDS Day 2021

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