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Retail is not dead – destinations built on tourism still have a significant future

In what is probably the first reletting in the UK of hundreds of shops abandoned by Philip Day’s failed Edinburgh Woollen Mill brand, Grape Tree health food and wellbeing chain is set to open shortly.

The ground floor shop at 63-71 Main Street is part of the Lakeland town’s Museum Square Shopping Centre, which was acquired in 2004 by Buccleuch Property Group.

Retailers close by include Millets, Fat Face and Blacks. The deal was completed at the end of February.

@retail consultant Bob Fletcher said: “We started marketing this property shortly before Christmas last year and negotiated a deal with Grape Tree very quickly. The depth of demand during this difficult period has been both surprising and encouraging with a number of local and national retail businesses keen to take advantage of the perceived uptick in activity in this and similar retail tourist destinations once the lockdown restrictions are eased.”

“With foreign holidays still uncertain following the outbreak of Covid-19, we see this trend continuing and we will be working closely with retail occupiers and landlords to help retain the vitality of our high streets.”

Since dealing with the Keswick property @retail have been instructed on 5 further former EWM occupied properties across the North of England and which have now closed.

Bob Fletcher added: “The former EWM property in Baxtergate, Whitby is now under offer and due to open on 12th April when hopefully non-essential retailers will be permitted to recommence trading.

A further shop in Keswick on prime pedestrianised Main Street, has attracted huge interest prior to formal marketing and we have further EWM shops to bring to the market in Bowness, Penrith and Hexham. These tourist related retail destinations are currently attracting keen interest and further details will be available shortly.”

Buccleuch Property’s asset management director Judy George added: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the growth of online retail, we’ve been able to attract a strong mix of niche and independent brands alongside well-known names that understand the opportunities presented in a town like Keswick, which operates at the centre of the tourism industry that is a huge part of Cumbria’s economy.”

@retail has a high street agency team and advises on all aspects of retail property management and ownership, offering strategic and operational consultancy on matters such as shopping centre leasing, investment, development, and professional services.

Retail property specialists strengthen ahead of exciting period of change

@retail, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, has appointed Jonathan Chapman who brings over 20 years of retail property experience to the team.

Jonathan, who qualified as a chartered surveyor in 2001, has joined @retail from Newcastle-based practice, Smith Cole Wright. Jonathan’s career to date has seen him successfully represent a wide range of landlords and tenants including McDonalds Restaurants, Topps Tiles, Clinton Cards, SIG, Entain Group (formerly Ladbrokes Coral) and Columbia Threadneedle Investments.

Ian Thurlbeck, Director at @retail said: “There is no doubt that the current economic climate and its impact on the retail property sector is uncertain to say the least. However, we see this as an exciting time when the landscape is changing at a rate faster than we have seen for many years.

“Clients expect us to have the ability, as well as the capacity, to be proactive and creative when dealing with the challenges and opportunities we face in current times.

“Jonathan’s experience is going to be invaluable to clients seeking expertise and knowledge of the local market. We are fortunate that we are able to appoint someone with Jonathan’s experience to allow us to ready ourselves for undoubtedly a very busy time over the coming months and years.”

Jonathan Chapman, retail agency surveyor at @retail added: “To say it’s been a busy start to the year would be an understatement. Despite the lockdown I have been amazed at how active we have been. I am really looking forward to the coming months as we ease our way out of the current restrictions and see the positive effects on the retail landscape.

“The well-publicised challenges facing retail and the High Street over the last year and indeed prior to that have created so many positive opportunities and we look forward to playing our part assisting landlords, retailers and leisure operators.”

@retail advises on all aspects of retail property management and ownership, offering strategic and operational consultancy on matters such as shopping centre leasing, investment, development, and professional services.

Call for entrepreneurs to set up in Blyth tourist hot spot

Blagdon Estate, which is bringing forward the new scheme at Blyth’s South Beach, is inviting parties to register their interest as marketing commences for the first phase of 16,000 sq.ft.

The Northumberland-based business, which secured planning consent in June 2020, is working with @retail as they look to secure occupier interest from local and national businesses.

The two-storey development on Links Road will be anchored by a new 3,750 sq.ft. Coop convenience store and further units of 1,000 sq.ft. to 3,350 sq.ft. are now available to lease.

Director of @retail, Ian Thurlbeck, said: “Given the popularity of South Beach amongst tourists and day visitors, as well as the size of the local community, there are a range of uses that could work very well. We look forward to talking to established operators and new businesses about their ideas.”

The first floor of the development will also provide over 4,300 sq.ft. of commercial floor space which the developer says could accommodate leisure uses, such as a health and fitness studio or restaurant.

Stuart Hall, director at Kingsmead Developments, development partner with Blagdon Estate, added: “This is a very important time to focus on the delivery of jobs for the area as well as new services and amenities which can benefit both local residents and visitors. We are very keen to establish a vibrant hub of local independent traders to help increase tourism and create local job opportunities.”

In September 2020, the annual Northumberland STEAM report on the economic impact of tourism, revealed that visitors spent over £1 billion when exploring the county in 2019.

The research, commissioned for Northumberland Tourism by NewcastleGateshead Initiative showed that during 2019, the county welcomed 10.68 million visitors. It reported that 82% of all visits were day visits, accounting for 35% of expenditure and highlighting the importance of local tourism.

Mr Hall added: “We want to place a strong local emphasis on this development and encourage access for all whether travelling on foot, by bike, car or using public transport. Our close proximity to a popular national cycle route is a real benefit.”

A second phase of the scheme will be positioned at the southern end of the site where Blagdon Estate owns an additional two acres overlooking the beach, potentially suitable for leisure or residential uses such as retirement living.

Interested parties can visit www.southbeachblyth.co.uk for more information.

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