Skip to content

Reshaping the future of retail – Jonathan Chapman

We’ve all heard the cries that the high street is gone; doomed to become a distant, long cherished memory of a golden retail age, echoed the length and breadth of the land. We’re told that shoppers will never come back, turning their backs in their droves on our high-street brands to shop online from the comfort and convenience of their own home. Assured convictions; bolstered by the shattering impact of the pandemic.

But above the clamour, no-one seems to have told consumers, who have returned in their millions as non-essential retail opens for business after months of unfortunate closure. Indeed, to paraphrase the great American writer Mark Twain: reports of the death of the high street do appear to be exaggerated.

While there’s no disguising the depressing sight of vacant high street units and boarded up shop fronts, it’s important that we take the chance to delve a little deeper to understand why this is the case – and discover what can be discerned from it all.

Certainly, a poor location can contribute to a lacklustre performance and declining footfall. Competitors may have secured better pitches close by, or you may be the victim of factors beyond your control.  For instance, the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on retailers, food outlets and leisure operators who cater for nearby office buildings bereft for months of workers. It could be sometime before people return in their numbers to pre-Covid levels.

There are other factors at play, too. Retailers with vacant premises on their hands might be the victims of operators merging with one another – suddenly, there are multiple stores within striking distance of one another. I experienced this when Birthdays and Clinton Cards merged, leaving a surfeit of competing sites on our hands.

Changing consumer tastes and social mores also have a huge impact. For example, smart phones enable people to quickly and easily download apps from the betting operators, placing their bets at the click of button at home rather than visiting the nearest bookie.

But out of chaos, comes order – or perhaps reorder as we look to reshape, redefine and reinvigorate our high streets. There will always be entrepreneurial retailers on the horizon, buzzing with fresh ideas, new optimism and renewed impetus; on the look-out for the right retail location for their ventures. Vape shops are one topical example, but before that we had sunbed shops, Turkish barbers, oriental medicines and even spas offering fish pedicures.

Indeed, the work-from-home era could generate more trade for local independents, convenience stores and good old-fashioned retail parades, who are better placed to cater for the needs of remote workers than the larger, more distant supermarkets.

I have also noticed that some people are choosing to use the pandemic as an opportune moment to look afresh at their lives. And this includes those who have been made redundant but are now grabbing the bull by the horns to pursue new adventures or set up their own business. Food-led retailers – Subways, Greggs, Costa et al – are also busy acquiring and will all be in the market for new sites in the future.

There’s no question we are living through strange times. The one constant in all this is that there will be change, especially for retail. For those who possess the vision, ambition and acumen, the chance is there to reshape the future of retail and usher in a new age of opportunity and growth.

GREGGS – Drive Thru Requirements – NORTH EAST

Greggs ambitious plans for growth continue as they seek new Drive Thru sites across the North East.

Following the success of their first drive thru site on Sandy Lane in North Gosforth, two further sites in the North East are now under offer and @retail are seeking further site opportunities on Greggs behalf.

The principle site criteria is simple:

  • Stand alone 1,800 sq ft
  • Typical site area of 0.5-0.7 acres
  • Dedicated or shared parking
  • Good visibility from the roadside
  • Minimum traffic flow of 15,000 vehicles per day

Many locations will be considered including main arterial commuter routes, retail and leisure parks, petrol filling stations, food stores, business parks, industrial estates or shopping centre car parks.

Ian Thurlbeck of @retail said; “we are excited to be assisting our longstanding clients Greggs in seeking sites for this new growth venture.”

For any opportunities that may be of interest across the North East, please contact Ian Thurlbeck – / 07515 831417

Keen demand for Retail Premises in Whitby

Acting for the landlord of the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop in prime Baxtergate @retail have secured a letting off market to Trespass the outdoor clothing and camping retailer.

Trespass has signed a 10 year lease with break and review after 5 at a rent in the region of £32,000 p a with a 3 month rent free period agreed.

@retail report strong interest in the town on the back of the staycation trend and have also let the former Bon Marche shop at 26-27 Baxtergate again to a multiple retailer.  This property is currently undergoing refurbishment which involves conversion of the upper parts for residential use.

Bob Fletcher at @retail comments; “Coming out of lockdown and even prior to that we have seen a notable increase in demand for retail space in locations which attract large numbers of visitors.  North Yorkshire and the Lake District proving particularly popular at the moment.”

@retail powers well-known North East chain’s regional expansion

But that’s not all. @retail is in the process of negotiating two further acquisitions in the region on behalf of Frank’s the Flooring Store, and there are plans for even greater expansion taking shape.

Frank’s is the North East’s biggest independent family-run flooring retailer, famed for its memorable slogan, “I love carpets, me!”, and @retail has been privileged to support its steady growth, which in October 2020 included the brand opening its first store in the city of Durham, at Framwellgate Moor.

Only weeks later, @retail worked with Frank’s to acquire the former Topps Tiles premises in the market town of Alnwick, Northumberland, where it has invested £70,000 on its 3,500 sq. ft. showroom. Previously known as Frank’s Factory Flooring, its product range has over the years grown beyond carpets to encompass vinyl flooring, wooden floors, rugs, and even artificial grass.

Despite the pandemic, Frank’s is enjoying record sales; with people spending more time at home under lockdown, their attention has turned to improving their home environment.

With its strong foundation, coupled with a solid reputation, Frank’s has demonstrated, like many retailers, that in challenging times it has seen the opportunity to grow.

Mick Copeland, business development manager at Frank’s explains: “The longevity of our relationship with @retail has been a crucial factor in our achievements as the team has developed a clear understanding of our requirements, and uses its expertise to keep a close eye on the developments both on and off the market to spot potential opportunities.

“As a result, we’ve been able to secure premises in the right locations for us across the region, on terms that work for us in terms of our ambitions.”

@retail director Ian Thurlbeck added: “We spend a lot of time looking for the right premises and negotiating lease terms on behalf of our clients, so they can focus their time and attention on the day to day running of their business.

“Having developed such a great rapport with the team at Frank’s, we’re familiar with its business model and its strategy for future development, which equips us to find and secure them suitable premises with favourable terms.

“We’re dedicated and pleased to support the growth of such a North East success story as Frank’s, and look forward to working together to help it continue to go from strength to strength as an employer in the region.”

At @retail, we advise 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.

For further information about how we can help you to grow, visit

New premises enable tech retailer to provide superior customer experience

When it comes to buying new IT or home technology equipment, shopping in-store rather than online can often be the only way to get the expert advice and customer service we really need.

@retail has successfully concluded the letting of high street premises at a popular coastal town in North Tyneside to a growing tech retailer who understands this concept perfectly.

Canny Clever IT Services Centres has signed a 10-year lease on a well-presented property at Park View in Whitley Bay, a shopping destination popular with local independent retailers as well as larger high street names.

The 2,700 sq.ft unit will showcase a range of computing products as well as the latest in smart home technology. A fitted IT Service Centre will also diagnose and repair customer equipment.

A dedicated training suite for customers is another key benefit, particularly for those who appreciate one to one expert guidance and want to get the most from their IT equipment. Canny IT see this as a community driven resource which will respond to local residents’ IT training needs.

Ian Angus, director at @retail, said; “From the first inspection it was clear that the premises could suitably accommodate the vision that Ken Mosley of Canny Clever had in mind. It’s always great to see retailers innovating to find new ways to serve their customers’ needs.”

The new store will have a ‘soft-launch’ on 12th April when national lock-down ends, with a planned full launch in late May, once all restrictions have lifted and the full fit-out has completed.

Ken Mosley, Canny Clever IT Service Centres, said “This is a fantastic opportunity for us, and other local businesses around us. We are looking forward to being part of the Park View and wider Whitley Bay communities. The speed at which we were able to move into this property was only matched by the enthusiasm of our new landlord and our own team! It promises to be a great start to COVID restrictions being lifted.”

Ian Angus added; “It’s great to see this unit which occupies a prominent corner position within Whitley Bay brought back into use and is without doubt one of the fastest transactions I’ve had the pleasure to be associated with.  Best wishes to Canny Clever with their new venture.”

To find out how @retail can help you find suitable premises for your retail or leisure business, contact us on 0191 2804120 or


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 for more information.

Talk to us about retail property

Get in touch with our local expert consultants to start a discussion about your requirements.

Contact us now