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Rising confidence in evidence at South West Banking Advisory Briefing


A South West Banking Advisory Briefing has highlighted how confidence in commercial property is generally increasing as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes.

The event, held by sector specialist Colliers, featured an overview from the global company’s UK Chief Economist, Dr Walter Boettcher, who told the online audience of real estate lenders and lawyers that commercial property was benefitting from the UK economy being boosted by a ‘vaccine bounce’ and from greater certainty following the EU/UK trade deal.

“Positive sentiment is coming through in sterling,” he said. “International investors are taking a brighter view of the UK, based on economic fundamentals and their improvement, and also the greater business confidence coming through because of the vaccine rollout success and the roadmap out of lockdown.”

Dr Boettcher’s observations were followed by South West regional market insights from Colliers specialists in the key sectors of investment, retail, industrial, and offices.

Carys Allen, a surveyor in the National Capital Markets team, said the first quarter of the year has already seen a number of significant industrial and office investment deals in the Bristol area, including the off-market purchase of Government-let Temple Quay House by Aberdeen Standard Investments, in a deal negotiated by Colliers. 

She said: “Bristol is high on the list for many investors for both offices and industrial. I expect there to be a good number of deals over the course of this year with values remaining strong for prime assets.”

Nick Turk, director in the Retail team, said that while the sector had been impacted by the pandemic and the shift to online shopping, it could benefit from this in the long term.

“The last 12 to 15 months have been interesting and we have seen an accelerated retail evolution, which without a global pandemic would have probably taken five or maybe 10 years to happen,” he said.

“In short, there was too much poor retail both in terms of property and retailers. These changes have caused a lot of pain but will lead to a retail proposition better suited to take on the challenges of online retail.”

Tom Watkins, director in the Industrial & Logistics team, said that there was a severe shortage of industrial stock across the South West – notably Bristol, Gloucester, Swindon and Exeter – and that this had driven up rents across the sector over the past 12 to 18 months.

He commented: “The sector has changed considerably, from the tertiary asset class that it once was into the rock star sector of the moment. The underlying fundamentals in the South West market remain strong, and in particular supply levels are at an all-time low. With speculative development very limited in the region we’re finding that occupiers are competing aggressively for available stock.”

James Preece, director in the National Offices team, said the Bristol office market had shown considerable resilience to the impact of the pandemic, with take-up around 20 per cent below the five-year average compared to a decline of between 30 and 50 per cent in other major regional cities.

He added: “There are quite a few big deals in the pipeline which make it likely that take-up is going to bounce back up considerably in the second half of this year.”

The South West Banking Advisory Briefing was organised and hosted by Deborah Bryant-Pearson, associate director in the Valuation and Advisory Services team in Bristol.

Summing up the insights provided by speakers, she said:  “As valuers we are relieved to see more transactions, both on an investment and occupational basis, allowing us to have more clarity over the market sentiment across the different asset classes.

“As restrictions further lift, I’m sure we will see changes in investor sentiment and hopefully more confidence returning."

Related Experts

Walter Boettcher

Head of Research and Economics

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

I am the the Chief Economist at global property advisors Colliers International based in London.  I am a research economist identifying timely research topics and directing research and forecasting outputs.

I have over 20 years UK and European property industry experience and extensive expertise across a wide range of property sectors and related industries.

I participate regularly in industry panel discussions, but am focused more on direct client engagement with institutions, property companies, banks, and private investors. A regular media commentator, I have a wide range of national and broadcast experience.

I joined Colliers International in August 2007 after several years at a private property company where he was responsible for managing a mixed portfolio of London residential, retail and office assets.

Previously, I worked in a few London property advisory firms, a geodemographic company as well as a few youthful sojourns in the US offshore oil industry, local government and entertainment business.

I am an economics graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received his PhD from the Faculty of Science at University College London.  I am a member of Lambda Alpha International and the Society of Property Researchers.

Perhaps best known for my alternative take on property economics and investment, I am a keen proponent of UK regional development and infrastructure investment.

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Nick Turk


Retail Agency - Out of Town


Nick has worked in the property industry for over 25 years dealing with a wide variety of property types and sectors such as retail parks, cash and carry, restaurants, supermarkets and offices. Nick is a specialist in all aspects of Asset Management for a variety of clients and concentrates predominately on the Retail Park market doing rent reviews, lease renewals and re-gears as well new leases.

The current uncertain market conditions have meant that there are many opportunities for both landlords and tenants to secure and/or improve their financial position. The continuing influence of the digital world has put more pressure on retail especially and that change has been accelerated by CV19.  Nick believes that “clicks” need “bricks” and in the future it will be a combination of excellent physical units as well as on-line fulfilment that will see retail thrive and it is those opportunities which need to be exploited.

Nick has had a variety of leadership roles within Colliers leading the Lease Advisory team for 5 years, the Retail - Out of Town team for 3 years and the Retail division on an interim basis for nearly 2 years.  

As well as professional work, Nick’s experience as an officer in the Gurkhas taught the importance of leadership by example and leading retail teams within the UK has provided that opportunity to make a difference. Nick is happiest talking to clients, understanding their business and looking to help them be more successful. 

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Tom Watkins


Industrial and Logistics


I joined Colliers International in 2012 for a years placement as part of my degree at Bristol UWE.  Since completing my degree I re-joined the Bristol office in 2014, and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor the following year, and then subseqnently managed to secure promotions year on year until being kindly awarded Directorship in  2019.

I am now Head of the South West Industrial & Logistics team based out of Bristol, specialising in the disposal and acquisition of industrial premises in the South West and South Wales regions, as well as providing specialist advice on industrial/warehouse  development.

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James Preece


National Offices


I am a Director in the National Offices team based in Bristol and have over 22 years experience.

Having joined Colliers in August 2008 my role has included numerous disposals and acquisitions in the South West for a myriad of clients, from large funds such as Aviva to private individuals.

I previously worked for Bidwells Business Space Agency team in Cambridge (2003 -2008) where I specialised in office and research & development disposals and acquisitions.

Before this I worked for Chesterton International Plc in London. After qualifying as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2001, I remained in the City office agency team.


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Debs Bryant-Pearson

Associate Director

Valuation and Advisory Services


I started my career at JLL and upon qualification I worked within the Industrial and Logistics Team, becoming the Trade Counter specialist for the south west.  I then  transferred to the Student Housing Valuation Team where my role included valuing exisiting schemes as well as development schemes across the UK and Ireland. 

In 2020, I moved to Avison Young to the commercial valuation team where I specalised in undertaking local authority annual asset valuations.

In August 2020 I joined Colliers in the Valuation team in Bristol as an Associate Director, working alongside Gemma Daly-Gunn.  

My experience has lead me to relish the challenge of valuing complex properties or scenarios, seeking the best  solution to determine value.  I undertake a range of valuation work from secured lending and accounts valuations, to providing Local Authority annual asset valuations using DRC metholodgy where required, and valuing assets on a cash flow basis.  Whilst I undertake valuation of core commercial assets, I have a particular interest in residential investment asset valuation, be it PBSA, HMOs, PRS or BtR.

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