Somerset Chamber

Talk to the team 01823 444924


Tell us your business news

Learn more


Member news

Demand for retail space remains high despite shift to e-commerce, says law firm

Construction specialists at law firm Clarke Willmott LLP say that despite the drastic shift to the e-commerce movement, opportunities within retail construction are still vast and varied and the future is bright for its retail clients.

While physical stores have taken a hit, the shift to online shopping has created more demand for warehouse space and has provided large scale projects and increased activity for the Clarke Willmott team.

Zoe Stollard (pictured), a partner in the firm’s construction team, said: “A lot of what we hear about the retail industry is doom and gloom with online shopping causing major high street stores like Toys R Us and Debenhams to struggle to compete.

“However, in terms of retail construction we are busier than ever. Products are still being sold and bought and this is positive; the products need to be stored, shipped and advertised.

“New warehouse space accounts for a large amount of our workload but there is also the adaptation of stores to meet with new demand. There’s service expansion, centre-store optimisation (transforming store layouts), store footprint rationalisation (adapting stores to provide for online pick up and retail space) and finally, robotics.

“Many retailers also recognise the importance of having a physical store footprint and an online presence, this creates more opportunity for construction as the briefs vary and could be more complicated.”

According to reports 235,000,000 sq ft of warehouse space has been leased or bought over the past decade, double that of the previous decade, and more than half of this has been built from scratch. Many companies are beginning online and do not branch out into shops at all.

Zoe continued: “There are many factors at play including an increase in disposable income and elevated customer confidence paired with consumer prioritisation and habits changing to prefer shopping from home and next day delivery.

“The shift has forced major retail players to change their game and this is more and more apparent as 2019 continues and we see more retail instructions. Compared to the start of 2018, we have seen more retail construction activity in the first half of 2019 from new and repeat clients.

“It’s great to be able to help corporations to adapt and negotiate their way through the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead in retail construction in coming years.”

Clarke Willmott’s construction team is one of the largest in both contentious and non-contentious law within the UK. The team has gained experience in working alongside large corporations to deliver projects and advise on complex construction matters with both legal and commercial insight.

Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

For more information visit

Connect. Influence. Grow.

Join Somerset Chamber of Commerce to give your business a stronger voice both locally, regionally and nationally. Combined with local town chambers, we represent over 2,000 businesses across Somerset with a direct line to policy-makers at all levels.

Discover the benefitsJoin now