According to the data, the UK attracted the most international retailers in 2009, followed by the United Arab Emirates and the US.

In 2009, the UK received 236 global retail projects, nearly 100 more than the US. This is the third year in a row that the UK has held the top place for retail destinations.

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Peter Gold, head of EMEA crossborder retail at CB Richard Ellis, pointed out that finding suitable real estate can be problematic for companies wanting to enter new markets, and that the opening of new retail space and shopping centres can act as a trigger to attract new businesses.

The UK has a disadvantage compared with places such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in this regard, but still has a lot going for it, especially its access to the European market.

Mr Gold said: “There are a number of factors for the UK being on top. The vast majority of its growth is in London, which is such a hub for the European network.

“It has a long history of good retail sales and demand and good productivity levels. You add that up and London and the UK is a compelling place to expand a business.”

Mr Gold is uncertain as to whether the UK will lose its top ranking, but he believes that, if it does, this will only be because other countries become more appealing. There is the possibility in his mind that the UAE could take over the top spot, as it has far more available real estate.

Not coincidentally, the report also concluded that on a city basis, London was the top-ranking retail hub, but its position is being increasingly challenged by Dubai. Paris, New York and Hong Kong completed the top five.

Mr Gold said: “The composition of the top five most international retail cities is hardly surprising, as these are large international capital cities, with strong and local catchments, and attract large numbers of affluent consumers.

“They also have high levels of tourist and business visitors, and are therefore very attractive locations for international brands.”

A few projects that are under way in the UK include Best Buy, a major US-based electronics retailer, which plans to open a store in Bristol, and German jewellery retailer Bijou Brigitte, which has said it will open 20 new UK stores in 2010.

Spencer Anderson