Get out of Town

Tim Hornor, partner at Edgerley Simpson Howe, argues that traditional in-town retailers have found out-of-town space relatively easy to adapt and stores cheap to downsize.

“Retailers such as John Lewis, Next and TK Maxx are all taking adapted bulky goods stores. It may not be the preferred option but at least it’s a new store rather than just dreaming about an in town opportunity”. He says. The fact is that out-of-town is there to be done, without lengthy planning battles. Its achievable, rather than waiting for planning to be granted on shopping centre developments and waiting for them to be built”.

Retail park space largely comprises location with bulky goods consent, which has allowed the mainly-furniture store formats offered by John Lewis and Next to grow out of town. For other in-town retailers, the tighter availability of open A1 consent could restrict ambitious growth plans.

And agents suggest that in-town retailers, which have been used to enviable rent concessions and packages over the past couple of years could find the comparatively expensive and competitive nature of the out-of-town market a challenge.

John Maddison, chairman of Accessible Retail, warns: “Some department store retailers have been used to {receiving} big chunks of money for anchoring schemes, but that has never been available out of town.”

So while appropriately sized in-town sites continue to evade the high street fashion giants, any significant move out of town could prove too costly.  But with retailers need to grow in an attempt to attract more of the spend from consumers’ ever dwindling cash piles the desire for spare space seems unstoppable.

Tim Hornor, Estates Gazette (September 2010)