Retail success stories in the South West have been highlighted in the annual Midsummer Retail Report from global real estate advisor Colliers International.

The consultancy’s 2018 report, which is the most comprehensive annual review of the UK shopping scene, was launched for the South West at Cinema de Lux in Bristol.

Hal Clarke, Senior Surveyor, Retail Agency (South), said: “Polarisation between the ‘best and the rest’ retail locations is becoming increasingly apparent throughout the UK and this is no different for the South West.

“The dominant centres in the region, such as Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham, Exeter and Plymouth, continue to benefit from good levels of demand and relatively low levels of vacancy.

“An example is Cheltenham, where rents remain unchanged from 2017 and the town will welcome a new 115,000 sq ft John Lewis department store in October of this year.”

Plymouth was also in the spotlight as a significant retail success story, because of the low overall vacancy rate of 8.3% compared to a national average of 13.3%.

“Work has commenced on the £40 million, 100,000 sq. ft. leisure extension to Drake Circus in Plymouth, which is set to be anchored by a 12-screen Cineworld IMAX cinema,” said Mr Clarke.

The Dorset towns of Poole and Christchurch were also highlighted for the way in which they were responding to the retail markets in their locations.

“Refurbishment of the Dolphin Centre, Poole, is now almost complete with the Kingland Crescent retail and leisure development due to commence shortly,” he said.

“Christchurch represents a small, convenience-led destination with the retail offering well-aligned with what shoppers wants from its shopping environment. The town recorded a 5% rental growth last year, which represents its third consecutive year of rental growth

“We see Christchurch as an example for what can be achieved by a smaller town in the shadows of a larger, more dominant, centre. The key message here is don’t attempt to be something you are not.”

Mr Clarke added that The South West witnessed significant average prime rent growth in 2017 at 2.5%, representing the highest outside of London and the South East, although when secondary rents were included there had been a -1.4% fall in rents after three years of consecutive rental growth in the region.

Expert insight was also provided by Katie Bapty, director in the Retail Lease Advisory team, Nick Turk retail director specialising in Out of Town; Matt Thompson associate director in Retail Strategy, and Harry Dunger, director in the Corporate Restructuring team.

Tim Davies, head of the South West and Wales for Colliers International, who introduced the speakers, said: “The Colliers International Midsummer Retail Report is renowned for providing a comprehensive comparative annual review of rents in 421 locations around the UK.

“This year’s report is no exception, and it was good to see that despite negative media coverage about this sector generally, there are locations in the South West that have been performing particularly well.”

PHOTO: Launch of the Colliers International Midsummer Retail Report for the South West. Left to Right: Harry Dunger, Director, Advisory & Restructuring; Katie Bapty, Director, Lease Advisory; Hal Clarke, Senior Surveyor, Retail Agency (South); Nick Turk, Director, Retail Agency Out of Town.