UK fashion designer Paul Smith says rent costs are killing the High Streets

The retail industry in the UK is one of the largest, however, with rent costs on the up as well as the popularity for shopping online, UK fashion designer Paul Smith is selling more clothes on his website than in any of his stores.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Paul Smith believes that the decline in the popularity of high street shops is down to the fact that rent costs are becoming too high for businesses to manage.

“I personally love shops but the problem with shops is something called rent,” says Smith. “There are a lot of very, very opportunist property developers, or greedy guys, who just put the rent up so much. They’ve got to be a bit careful because they’re going to kill the character of the streets.”

With the online platform for shopping showing no signs of slowing down, Paul Smith believes that rent costs are going to restrict people, and turn them towards being an online presence.

When asked about the next 5 or 10 years, whether companies will put most of their stock online or in big, flagship stores, Smith responded: ” I think the rents are going to be really prohibitive, for a lot of people.”

“The main thing is the over-distribution of clothes and how many big brands have over distributed and over too many shops. So, fish pond, fisherman, 20 years ago there’s three people fishing in pond, and now about two-and-a-half thousand people fishing in the same pond. So, it’s a real problem for many, many people, especially if they’re public equated companies, you could imagine that there’s going to be quite a lot of pressure in the next few years.”

Paul Smith also explained how his slow growth has helped him, and why he never wants to be number 1 in the fashion world.

“I think the thing is it’s been a very slow growth, a very gentle growth, we’ve been around for a long time, still self-financed, still no borrowing, so it’s been just a really gentle process.”

“I’ve never been today’s flavour, which I love. I think that if you’re number one in any industry – music industry, TV programme, a magazine, a rock star, anything – if you’re number one there’s only one place you can go, and that is down, it’s very few people manage to maintain the height that they get at some point.”

‘Sharp Look: A Conversation with Paul Smith’ aired on Friday 3 July on Bloomberg Television, and is set to air again 7.30pm Monday 6-Thursday 9 July.