Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Seven Dials, the latest hub for European retailers making their London debut


Retail and leisure destination Seven Dials is establishing its status as a European retail hub after a string of brands opened branches this year in the spot which hosted last Thursday‘s Christmas Shopping Event.

With Cornish surf brand Finisterre having opened its first London store there last week, Spanish footwear brand The Seeker making its UK debut there, and Swedish accessories brand Happy Socks choosing it for their first UK flagship store, Seven Dials in Covent Garden continues to be an in-demand location that welcomes 32m visitors every year.

Finisterre founder Tom Kay said the opening of the store is a “big moment” for them and that they are “excited to bring the entire brand and product experience under one roof in the nation‘s capital.”

Predominantly owned by Shaftesbury plc, Seven Dials now plays home to Anglo-Swedish watch brand Larsson & Jennings‘ debut UK store and the Lee Jeans flagship store which has moved to Neal Street. So what is it about this London location that attracts retailers?

Speaking to Retail Gazette, Sam Bain-Mollison, Head of Group Retail Strategy and Letting at Shaftesbury PLC expressed how some European retailers may prefer to choose Seven Dials over locations with young and ‘hip‘ reputations such as Shoreditch:

“Seven Dials is every bit as ‘hip‘ as Shoreditch, as evidence by the arrival of Finisterre and Larsson & Jennings…Consequently, mass market retailers are moving into Shoreditch which compromises its appeal for some brands.”

Bain Mollison added that, as a landlord, Shaftesbury plc are “incredibly selective about which retailers we choose to have in the area as they have to suit our retail strategy of offering products or services you can‘t find in the normal high street.” The European appeal is also credited to a “long-standing French association with Seven Dials”, which includes London‘s oldest French restaurant, Mon Plaisir.

With a rich history dating back to its notable design by Thomas Neale in the 1690s, Seven Dials is regularly bustling with tourists and locals. Antonio Morenés, CEO of The Seeker UK, said, “within London, there is nowhere better for The Seeker to make its debut than Seven Dials. The area successfully combines great heritage and character with a cosmopolitan mix of brands that appeals to Londoners and visitors alike. We feel at home in Seven Dials and it will play a key role in our expansion in Northern Europe.”

Last week‘s Christmas Shopping Event literally stopped traffic as Camden Borough Council and Shaftesbury joined forces for the third time this year to create a traffic-free Seven Dials. Ticket holders enjoyed 20% off shopping and complimentary food and drink by Masterchef winners Tim Anderson and Tom Whitaker at pop up stalls.

Clare Harris, Head of Marketing and Communications at Shaftesbury PLC, commented on how the event reinforces the ‘village feel‘ of “Seven Dials‘ unique character and personality, which leads to increased footfall and spend, and encourages consumer loyalty.”

Element, skateboard-inspired clothing and footwear brand, who recently opened their debut UK store at Shorts Gardens, hosted a launch event during the Christmas festivities. Element Brand Manager Julien Duval stated, “Prominent events like this are one of the many reasons we selected Seven Dials to launch our only standalone store in the UK…The night created huge footfall and gave us the opportunity to showcase our unique store design.”

Finisterre‘s founder echoed this sentiment following the brand‘s special event last night: “The event was a fantastic success…the buzz on the evening was incredible,” said Kay.

Bain-Mollison assures that Shaftesbury plc will continue to run events including in-store parties and plans to re-pedestrianise the Dials, adding that, “lots happens in Seven Dials.”