Andrew Jones, who as executive director at British Land drove the creation of the Glasgow Fort and Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird malls, said 51% of UK high street shopping leases were due to expire by the end of next year, and rents would inevitably fall sharply making them unattractive to institutions. Investors such as his £1.2 billion investment trust LondonMetric would not risk disruption to future income, believing "it's easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble", Mr Jones told an investment seminar in the capital staged by Cantor Fitzgerald.
"Consumer shopping patterns are changing and polarising around the big cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh are very strong, but regional centres are struggling and secondary retail is having a very tough time," Mr Jones said. Big retailers such as Arcadia and M & S meanwhile are shrinking stores and investing in new distribution warehouses to keep pace with the likes of Amazon, Next, Argos and John Lewis who could offer next-day delivery.
Mr Jones, chief executive of Metric Property Investments, said: "Out of town is the better place to be if you are going to take advantage of the growth in online shopping, helping retailers improve their logistics and infrastructure seems to be a sensible way of doing that - and that is not going to change. This is not to say I think all town centres will die, but this is about looking at it from a real estate point of view."