Some delayed their return, others cancelled outright. A year and a half after adopting a wait-and-see attitude, luxury brands have confirmed their renewed interest for the Belgian capital.
The Boulevard de Waterloo, the main artery of Brussels, dedicated to luxury brands, will soon welcome the fashion house Prada. The luxury brand has confirmed its arrival to the emblematic site of The Hotel, located at number 38 Boulevard de Waterloo.
Following the attacks that took place in Brussels in march and the lacklustre climate that followed, luxury brands largely delayed or even cancelled their expansion projects within the Belgian capital.
The new pedestrianized centre, lockdown and works in the capital’s tunnels have also had a general impact by slowing down the economy, particularly in the tourism and trade sector.
Rightly or wrongly, many retailers, including luxury brands, were cautious. Freeze on expansion projects, the opening of new stores postponed or even cancelled, as did Dolce & Gabbana, reduction of rented space, ... some major players - including Prada - had decided to concentrate their expansion activities in other markets with higher potential.
The renewed interest of luxury brands for Brussels and the confirmation of the arrival of some of these brands is a strong signal to the luxury retail market and in particular for the commercial real estate sector.
Brussels is doing better, its tourism and its tourists – who are fond of international brands - are more present than ever.
Jonathan Delguste, Partner at Cushman & Wakefield: "Over the last few weeks, we have seen a renewed interest from some luxury brands. They have researched the locations and the district of Boulevard de Waterloo in particular. Even if the focus is on smaller areas, retailers are starting to look into the potential of the area again, so the message is positive for the market and customer supply. The confirmation of the arrival of Prada to an area of more than 500 sq. m. demonstrates the great potential that Brussels constitutes to offer them and at the same time reassured other brands of the potential that the capital can present for them."
The shop will be located halfway up Boulevard de Waterloo and will bring continuity in the positioning between the bottom and the top of the commercial artery. Jonathan Delguste says: "Recently we noted the move of Versace and Ermenegildo Zegna as well as the opening of the Fabiana Filippi shop in the furthest section of the street."
If the bottom of Boulevard de Waterloo (side of Place Louise) is the most sought-after part of luxury brands for many years, the (re) development of new projects on the top of the artery has made it possible to revitalise the entity of the boulevard.
This encouraging sign signals the likely announcement of the opening of other new brands in the near future.
Jonathan Delguste is Partner Retail Agency High Streets and member of the Cushman & Wakefield EMEA team specialised in Luxury Retail.
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