05/07/2011

FARNHAM RETAIL – MARKET UPDATE

POSTED IN General

Despite the general doom and gloom in the retail sector that the press are wallowing in the demand for prime retail space in Farnham remains strong and rents have as a result held up well and this is evidenced by a number of deals that Wadham & Isherwood have concluded since the end of 2010. No. 1 Town Hall Buildings was let to Blink Fashion Group just prior to Christmas on the basis of a new 10 year FRI lease at a rent of £40,000 per annum this working back to a Zone A equivalent of £92.56. The shop was open for Christmas trading.

On the other side of The Borough, the main shopping street, and adjoining the Bush Hotel three small shops that had stood empty for years have been let. Almond who retail furniture items and gifts were the first to open followed by Beverley Edmondson Milliners, with Gloss who specialise in beauty products taking 1 South Street. The fourth unit which is currently in solicitors hands will soon open as a new delicatessen concept called The Borough once Listed building consent has been obtained. Wadham & Isherwood were only appointed letting agents on these four units which, had stood empty for years, by Moorfield Estates the new owners of the Bush Hotel in 2010.

In Lion & Lamb where Wadham and Isherwood continue to advise the landlords two shops have been let and the Yard is now again fully occupied. One of the original timber framed buildings, Unit 25, has been let to Loncherie a new venture specialist lingerie retailer at a rent of £25,000 per annum. In April Ruby Mane an exclusive ladies hairdressers opened in Unit 7 Lion & Lamb having taken a new 10 year lease at an average rent of £37,000 per annum exclusive of rates. These lettings break back to a Zone A equivalent of around £80.00 per sq.ft. Both these lettings follow hot on the heels of the recent opening of the highly success Cote restaurant in July 2010 which is now trading as one of the most successful of their branches outside London. Wadham & Isherwood acted for the landlords and negotiated the letting of the 4,000 sq.ft. building, part new build/part refurbished, with Cote paying a rent of £85,000 per annum.

Elsewhere in Farnham Wadham & Isherwood have negotiated the letting of 9 South Street on behalf of private landlords to Ash Hairdressers who are relocating from a prime unit in The Borough which has since been let to an independent travel agent. 51 Downing Street was let to a new delicatessen that opened its doors for trading in April 2011.

The latest retail letting in the town was in respect of 1 West Street at the top of Downing Street which previously traded as Gascoigne Pees Estate Agents. Acting for a private landlord Wadham & Isherwood negotiated a letting to Crew Clothing on the basis of a new 10 year full repairing and insuring lease at an average rent of £43,500 per annum. Crew Clothing who have been looking for a unit in the town for a considerable number of years are delighted with the success of this new venture which is already trading beyond expectation.

Geoff Reeve who handled all these lettings comments that “things are undoubtedly looking good in the town which serves a resident population of some 40,000 including one of the highest percentages of A & B households in the country and which, within an easy drive time, benefits from a catchment area well in excess of 100,000.

The town has an undoubted appeal for shoppers due to the unique nature of the town centre all of which is a Conservation Area incorporating many Grade II Listed buildings. The centre is complimented by a number of interesting yard/alleyways the town benefitting substantially from the efforts of ‘Farnham in Bloom’ which is supported by the Town Council. Castle Street is recognised as one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the country and with the arrival of such traders as White Stuff, Crew, Blink, Fenwright & Manson and Gerard Darel the profile of the town has been much improved without losing its reputation of featuring a unique selection of independent specialist retailers.

What is however needed is urgent action on the blighted area in East Street, which was identified for a mixed use redevelopment some 10 years ago plus the adjoining 60’s scheme known as The Woolmead. This general area has undoubtedly become a major blot on the landscape and it is certainly hoped that Crest, the developers chosen by Waverley Borough Council, will soon be in a position to proceed. If this is not the case however then the opportunity will need to be remarketed come the end of the year, and taking account of current demand and trends for space when the existing Option expires. In addition it is hoped that the old Woolworths store which is to become Evitavonni, a retailer of lifestyle individual room setting will soon open its doors as this has been promised we believe since the last quarter of 2010. The entire town is in fact waiting with bated breath as this is situated in a prime trading location currently with whitewashed windows creating a major void in the retail offer.