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Town centres need bricks and clicks model

hstsignHigh street retails can prosper if they adapt to multi-channel shopping and keep their nerve: Duff & Phelps.

Financial and restructuring firm Duff & Phelps says that the country's high streets can prosper if they follow consumers and switch to a multi-channel business model.

National chains will have no more than 100 branches, backed by 'a fantastic online presence,' according to Phil Duffy, a md at Duff & Phelps Manchester office who has been involved in the restructuring of MFI and Borders.

'The message is therefore clear: if the high street is to survive then the sector needs to address the changing habits of the market and adopt a bricks and clicks business model. Today's consumer wants the flexibility this affords and retailers need to address this head on.

'Another major trend is the rise of destination shopping centres and this is going to affect not only shopping habits but retailers as well. Over the past decade the rise of the out-of-town shopping centre has been almost unstoppable and in many cases this has led to the rise of retail citadels such as The Trafford Centre or Westfield. Those retailers that focus their energies in these hot spots are going to survive and arguably survive well in the current economy.

'There is no doubt that these destination shopping centres have affected historic high streets, but their growth is now being limited. In the interest of maintaining town centres there has been a marked increase in legislation to discourage out-of-town development and encourage investment in traditional shopping locations.

'Don't take my comments that the UK retail sector is dead and buried. It is in fact in a period of incredible change.

'Those retailers that keep their nerve, and focus on adapting to changing buying habits, will be the ones that survive the current economic challenges. Let the market change and put the consumer in the driving seat and the sector will rebound,' he says.