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Business & Finance

London’s Iconic West End Presents Untapped Opportunities for Japanese Investors and Brands in the Retail Sector to Thrive and Grow


-Figures indicate that London is the most attractive city for international retail trade companies to expand to
-US and European brands are leading expansion into London, with data demonstrating significant untapped potential for the Asia region in London
-Turnover in the West End is expected to reach £11.4 billion in 2025, indicating strong returns for Asian retailers looking to scale overseas

New investment data from London & Partners, the business growth and destination agency for London, shows that London is the leading global city for international retail businesses. Over the past five years, London has attracted a total of 460 retail trade inward investment projects: significantly more than any other destination city, ahead of Paris (256), New York (249) and Singapore (188). London attracted more inward investments than any other global city between 2020 and 20211.

Global businesses are reaping the returns of investment in the market, with the majority coming from the US and European countries which take up the top 10 source countries for expansion into London. Japan is the only Asian market to claim a spot among the top 10, ranking joint ninth with Denmark, demonstrating that Japanese brands have recognised the opportunities that London presents as an expansion city.

New data shows London has seen more retail trade inward investment over the past five years than Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul combined. London can offer substantial growth potential for Asian brands outside of the Asian market, especially those offering consumer concepts in food & beverage, retail, leisure, arts and entertainment, which contribute to the diverse consumer offerings in London.

London’s West End is a major draw for overseas consumer businesses, with the district attracting 200 million visitors a year and an annual spend of Pound Sterling 10 billion pre-pandemic. The area is home to over 250 flagship stores, with presence of well-known Asian brands including Uniqlo, Marugame Udon, and Samsung. There is now a unique window of opportunity for exciting consumer-facing businesses to be part of the West End’s future story, as highly coveted retail space has become uniquely available post-pandemic, in well-known districts including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, and Piccadilly.

Home to the Embassy of Japan in the UK, the West End has strong cultural ties with Japan, from acclaimed fashion brands to unique dessert eateries. In 1991, MUJI chose London as its first international home; their flagship store now sits on Tottenham Court Road, with three additional West End locations. Japanese fashion brands are favouring the UK district for expansion, with Onitsuka Tiger opening its largest global store in the West End in 2021. Fast Retailing Co. has selected a prime corner location for Uniqlo and Theory brands to open this spring on Regent Street.

Satoshi Suga, Head of Marugame Udon Global Growth, TORIDOLL Holdings Corp, says: “The decision to bring the Marugame Udon brand to London has been excellent for us. Working with the UK and Europe team, the first two UK locations opened in 2021 – the first in mainland Europe serving as the starting point for the rollout across the continent. Since the London launch, we have rapidly expanded our presence across the city. It is clear that UK consumers have appetite for eating out and trying new international concepts. We’re proud to bring udon to the people of London.”

Laura Citron, CEO at London & Partners, adds: “This new data offers further proof that London is a world class consumer destination, offering a multitude of opportunities for international investors looking to expand outside of their home market. The easing of restrictions has led to growing demand from consumers to get out and explore the city, so there’s never been a better time for Japanese brands to snap up highly sought-after retail spaces and increase their customer base.”

The future looks bright for London’s West End with growth expected to rocket to an annual turnover of Pound Sterling 11.4 billion by 2025, superseding pre-pandemic levels by 14 percent. Short term forecasts predict turnover in the district will reach Pound Sterling 8.6 billion this year and will recover to its historic annual figure of Pound Sterling 10 billion within the next two years. The West End is one of London’s most visited areas, and footfall in the district is already at 84% of pre-pandemic levels. Development in the area will be given a further boost, with a Pound Sterling 5 billion capital investment planned over the next five years.

For Asian consumer brands considering expansion to London, a free of charge and confidential service is available from London & Partners, who can support in all areas of expansion and connect brands to West End property owners to help find retail space.

About London & Partners

London & Partners is the business growth and destination agency for London. Our mission is to create economic growth that is resilient, sustainable and inclusive. For more information, visit:

Data references

1. London & Partners analysis of data from fDi Markets data from the Financial Times Ltd, March 2022. Based on greenfield Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in the Retail Trade cluster (includes sectors including: textiles, F&B, consumer products and leisure & entertainment), between Jan 2016 to Dec 2021.