Data from the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) has revealed a 0.8% fall in empty units year-on-year for the final quarter of 2015, due to increasing competition from multiple chains and international retailers. In addition, online retail sales in the UK grew 16.2% in 2015 and are expected to continue growing in 2016. The continued rise in online shopping and competition on the high street has led to traditional retailers considering other avenues to increase sales.
Building owners seeking to maximise rents and occupancy rates are increasingly renovating their retail properties in order to maximise profits. Recent research by Glenigan has shown a rise in remodelling and fit-out projects in the retail sector to meet the challenge faced by retailers of keeping and attracting new customers and to accommodate new services and offerings.
Opening up shop fronts
One way retailers are capturing the interest of potential customers is by creating open and inviting shop fronts that allow passers-by to clearly see the products and services available to them. For retail environments within covered shopping centres, sliding stacking walls can offer a highly practical solution as they completely open up retail spaces, removing the boundary between inside and outside, while also maximising the usable floor area. Where there is a cavity available, the sliding leaves can be stored discreetly, maintaining a clean look.
Sliding stacking wall applications can help meet the aesthetic, regulatory and practical elements required of a property. The benefits of these systems is that they provide straightforward access to entrants of all types and offer pedestrians a clear visual layout of the store. Multidirectional hardware systems with the ability to house timber and aluminium frames with toughened glass and frameless glass are ideal as they give architects and designers the scope to create bespoke styles and openings.
From a regulatory standpoint, Building Regulations and legislation must also be considered when creating a new shop front. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) stipulates accessibility to business premises for employees and customers with a disability as a statutory right. With a total annual disposable income of over £212b, there is a clear business case in meeting the needs of the estimated 11 million disabled people in Britain.
Dividing retail space
With retail space at a premium, building owners are now increasingly looking at innovative solutions to create adaptable areas when embarking on major refurbishment works. Options include dividing large retail areas into smaller plots to maximise rents and meet occupant demands for competitive pricing.
Sliding stacking systems can be a useful solution for such applications as they are extremely adaptable and can act as temporary walls, subject to demand. The systems can be used as room dividers to create flexible plots to meet the needs of pop-up shops, independents, start-ups and temporary stores whose rental budgets may be limited.
Specifying high-quality multidirectional sliding door hardware alongside insulated leaves for example, can provide retail spaces with privacy to fit individual business needs. The benefits of these systems is that floor space can be expanded or contracted in an instant, meeting owner and occupier preferences. The best hardware systems have the capability to carry wood, aluminium and steel leaves with a variation of movement – 90 or 135°.
What to choose?
The best multidirectional hardware systems are made from quality components and tested for everyday use. They should offer high performance, versatility and be suitable for a multitude of installations offering different stacking configurations and door weight capacities. The systems should be top-hung, allowing for the floor area to be kept clean and free from trip hazards.
Sliding stacking walls allow each individual panel to slide on its own. This gives an added flexibility to larger apertures as the opening size can be changed depending on the types and quantity of users expected to enter and exit the space. When fully open, sliding stacking walls can also improve safety and security in retail environments as they allow staff and customers to clearly see any outside activity as there are no obstacles in view.
Choosing a manufacturer that can provide British engineered systems that are cost-efficient and combine high performance with aesthetic appeal is key. An experienced UK-based company with the design expertise to create bespoke solutions is favourable to architects and designers looking to meet the requirements of their clients as they can expect unrivalled service and support.