The UK has emerged as the most attractive market for international retailers, despite the tough economic environment at home, according to a survey of by global property adviser CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

Britain has attracted 56.7% of international brands, more than any other nation, and London was the most popular city in the world for retailers, with 55.6% of international retailers having stores there.

CBRE’s annual survey – How Global is the Business of Retail? – mapped the global footprint of 326 of the world’s top retailers across more than 200 cities.

In its attempt to identify trends in global retail expansion at national and local levels, the report found that retailers expanded into a wide range of markets last year, with 74% of the nations in the survey witnessed at least one new retailer’s entry into the market.

Retailers’ overall global footprint rose 2.1%, similar to the previous year, showing that retailers continue to expand overseas in spite of a tough consumer environment.

London topped the list after sharing top spot with Dubai last year, as the city benefited from a mini-boom in 2011 with tourist spending boosted a relatively robust local economy.

CBRE EMEA cross border retail head Peter Gold said the trend for US fashion retailers making strategic advances into the UK continued last year, building on the successful entries of several major US brands in recent years.

"This is largely because the US retail market is saturated and the language and cultural characteristics shared with the UK make establishing a brand and merchandising a store easier than in other European markets," Gold said.

The firm said the number of new store openings in 2011 reveals that Europe was the most targeted region at city level accounting for 48% of new entries, followed by the Middle East and Africa with 22% and Asia with 14%.

Kazakhstani city Almaty was the most sought after new city last year with 18 new retailers making their entry, partly due to growth in average income levels and major infrastructure improvements.

In 2011, the east European cities of Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw saw 11, 9 and 6 retailers entering the cities, respectively.