Retail's star is still bright

Retail property's star has waned in the past 18 months, but as GVA Lamb & Edge's Ian Pearson explains, the first three months of 2007 auger well for some parts of the retail market.

Retail property's star has waned in the past 18 months, but as GVA Lamb & Edge's Ian Pearson explains, the first three months of 2007 auger well for some parts of the retail market.

The Christmas and New Year period marked, as is usual with the retail market, the end of the road for a handful of retailers together with a note of optimism for the prospects for the rest of 2007.

Card Warehouse and Adams Childrenswear together with Music Zone had their problems but have re-emerged in one form or another.

Card Warehouse's disposals have resulted in a prime unit coming available in King Street, South Shields, while Adams have let go of their prime property at the northern end of Northumberland Street.

That building is currently being marketed by London-based agent Cushman & Wakefield.

As with a number of other music retailers, Music Zone finally departed but Fopp are understood to have acquired a large number of its units across the UK.

Capital Shopping Centres is pushing ahead with its £170m extension to Eldon Square, which will add 420,000sqft.

And Multiplex continues with pre-planning application works for its proposed Pilgrim Street development.

The takeover of book chain Ottakars by rival Waterstones has resulted in the main store in the town on Grey Street now being available. I would expect that an early letting will be secured for this highly attractive listed building to a major name fashion retailer. Nearby, Parabola Properties took back the lease on the former Delcor store opposite Theatre Royal and we are involved in negotiations with potential tenants for all or part of that unit.

The fall out of the Eldon Square re-development has resulted in a number of stores around the city centre being taken by retailers needing re-sites although some good secondary units remain.

In Sunderland the demise of Owen Owen has resulted in the marketing of the freehold of the former Joplings department store and in Hexham the former Robbs Department Store remains available together with the Co-op food store.

A number of units throughout the North-East's best retail trading towns have become available but take-up remains better than one would have expected.

I would not say that the market is buoyant but the success we are having with interest in the former Co-op department stores in Newcastle, Chester-le-Street, Ashington, Gateshead and Amble would seem to indicate that there are retailers looking for a space.

Out of town the market is different with open A1 use (food or non food) still highly sought-after, although the bulky goods market, including DIY, seems fairly static.

Ian Pearson is head of retail agency at property agent GVA Lamb & Edge in Newcastle.

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