Local and regional operators provide hope to high street

20 April 2021
  • Ben Davies, Retail & Leisure Cooke & Arkwright

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The retail, leisure and hospitality sectors in Wales have faced some of the most challenging business conditions during the last 12 months, with the Covid pandemic, the changing profile of the high streets and the growth in online shopping.

Our Retail & Leisure team has worked hard throughout this period, securing multiple lettings, sales and acquisitions for clients, and was named Most Active Retail Agent in Wales 2020 by Estates Gazette for the second year running.

Ben Davies, Associate gives us his view on how the retail and leisure sector in Wales has fared:

“National retailer and restaurant demand fell away during 2020, partly due to the pandemic. Against this background, we actually witnessed growing interest from local and regional occupiers, resulting in a variety of transactions taking place.

“A few examples include local independent craft brewery and bar, Brew Monster which took a ten year lease in a prime location in Cardiff Bay close to Mermaid Quay during the first lockdown. They were absolutely determined to weather the storm and have their eyes on future expansion.

“Another was Welsh independent coffee house, Bradleys Coffee, which opened its sixth café in south Wales at St Elli Shopping Centre, Llanelli in February this year. They also have plans for another location. We also secured a letting to Love Brownies, a Yorkshire franchise business, which opened its first café in Wales in Penarth just before Christmas.

“It’s encouraging to see that in the face of the uncertainty impacting all aspects of life over the past year, local and regional operators have been capitalising on opportunities and demonstrating confidence in bolstering their businesses in a challenging market.

“This trend of local and regional occupier interest has continued into 2021, which should give heart to many of our local high streets. I anticipate that this will continue as people adjust to a hybrid model of working between home and office.

“Also encouraging has been the evident and growing co-operation between landlords and tenants who are increasingly trying to understand each other’s concerns. This has led to a strengthening of relationships which is key as we navigate through the rest of another tough year.”

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group