UK Remains Most International Retail Market

The UK is popular with international retailers

The UK continues to lead the world as the most international retail market, as Europe maintains its ability to attract the world’s top retailers, according to new research.

The 2009 edition of the How Global is the Business of Retail? report from CB Richard Ellis mapped the footprint of 280 top global retailers across 67 countries, exploring the globalisation of the retail industry at national and city levels to highlight differences between sectors and regions, identifying trends in the patterns of global retail expansion.

The UK outperformed other major European economies such as Spain, France, Germany and Italy to take the number one position within the top 15 most international retail markets, with 58% of all retailers surveyed present.

Europe continues to dominate, containing eight out of the top 15 most international retail locations, although emerging economies such as China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates have gained significant ground in the past 12 months. China, Russia and Japan performed particularly strongly in the 2008 global retail ranking, achieving sixth, seventh and 14th positions respectively. Middle Eastern countries have also seen a marked increase in retailers entering the region. The UAE jumped two places in the ranking, from sixth in 2007 to fourth in 2008, with 45% of international retailers present compared to 39% in 2007. Saudi Arabia also made a notable leap up the rankings from 28th position in 2007 to 15th position in 2008, with 37% of international brands present.

The US registered in 10th position globally, with 39% of international retailers present. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the size, maturity and strength of its domestic market. US retailers tend to penetrate their vast national market extensively before considering international expansion. Canada made the strongest rise up the global ranking of any country in the Americas in 2008, moving into 13th position from 18th, with 37% of international retailers present, a 6% increase from 2007.

Peter Gold, Head of EMEA Cross Border Retail at CB Richard Ellis, says, “Despite the global economic slowdown, many retailers, especially cash-rich private companies, have continued their expansion plans throughout the past 12 months. Our survey of 280 retailers saw them expand their international presence by an average of 12% in the past year, being represented in a further two more countries than in the previous year. This was primarily driven by clothing, footwear and accessories retailers from Europe. Interestingly, retailers have continued not just to internationalise, but to globalise – 40% of all new store openings in 2008 were outside the retailer’s home region.

“It remains to be seen whether this pace of expansion into emerging markets will be sustained through 2009 and 2010. Yet the globalisation of the retail industry is undoubtedly an ongoing long-term trend which is not going away,” adds Gold.

The report analysed which types or categories of retailers have the strongest international presence, and found that luxury retailers dominate global retail in terms of their footprint around the world. Some 90% of luxury retailers have a presence in more than 10 markets and 40% are present in more than 30 countries.


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