We’re now spending more of our free time on leisure activities than ever before. But a new trend in ‘experience-led’ activities is driving the retail and leisure sector in a new direction.
As spend on the high street reduces, there appears to be a shift among consumers towards spending more on experience and less on possessions, and I’ve seen a real transformational in attitude amongst those working in the leisure sector. People are re-thinking how to use leisure property in a more dynamic and forward-thinking way which reflects this shift of focus to ‘experience’.
Traditional D2 leisure operators – such as cinemas and bowling alleys – do still have a role to play, but I see the real growth area in emerging concept trends. We’ve seen the rise of ‘competitive socialising’ concepts like table tennis bar Bounce and mini-golf operators Swingers and Junkyard Golf, who have had real success in city centre locations.
But this shift is happening not just in prime central locations, but for all types of retail and leisure property, including standalone and out-of-town sites. Spaces are being redeveloped and repurposed to tap into this trend whether that is on the high street or on unused industrial land.
One such example is our Glynstell Park site in Cardiff. We recently refurbished the site and part of it is now being operated by a trampolining business – one concept that was virtually non-existent five years ago.
Topgolf International is another great example of this evolution in the leisure market. Topgolf is a tech-heavy, multi-level golf entertainment venue with quality on-site food and drink on offer – another ‘competitive socialising’ concept, targeting people of all ages and social groups. After starting in London, the business has seen a rapid growth in the States with over 40 venues now trading from Miami to Portland.
We recently submitted a planning application to South Lanarkshire Council for a new facility for Topgolf at our Two 74 development in Rutherglen, Glasgow. This is in a prime location on the edge of the city, with excellent connectivity to the city centre via the M74 and M8. We knew there was great potential for this site when the M74 extension was announced over ten years ago and the strategic importance of the site has increased massively since then.
The east end of Glasgow has gone through a huge transformation driven by the Clyde Gateway regeneration project. The Commonwealth Games in 2014 was in part the catalyst for this transformation, demonstrating the importance leisure and sport can play in the wider local environment and the impact it can have on the physical, social and economic regeneration of an area.
Topgolf will be a great addition to the Clyde Gateway regeneration area. We have worked with the operator for some time now and we’re delighted to partner with them to secure their first site in the UK for 15 years, and the first one in Scotland, the Home of Golf. So you could say “Topgolf’s Coming Home” – or perhaps that’s not the most appropriate slogan for Scottish sports fans to get behind…