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Rent Reduction Is Key To Letting Town Centre Retail Properties

Published on: 23 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2019

American Express building at 38 – 42 High Street, Guildford has been let to a coffee shop company.

by Hugh Coakley

Setting realistic rents on town centre retail properties is key to ensuring that they are let said Chartered Surveyor, Geoff Davis, principal of Newman Davis & Co, Surveyors and Valuers in Guildford.

High Street traders, especially independents frequently say high rents and business rates are major obstacles to business success. It has been claimed that Guildford High Street is second only to London for commercial rents and rates.

Geoff Davis, a borough councillor, but speaking only in his business capacity, said: “It’s no secret” that in the current market, “more than 20% reduction in rents” is needed.

He was talking to The Guildford Dragon NEWS after letting the currently vacant American Express building in the High Street to a speciality Sri Lankan coffee shop business. The lease expired in September 2018 but is believed to have been vacant for over a year.

Mr Davis added: “This situation proves that, with diligent application, it is possible to let retail premises in Guildford at the moment, so long as proper market terms are defined and achieved.”

Against a background of high streets around the country struggling against increasing costs and online competition while business rates in the South East increase, he observed: “Something has to give. There is a market but you have to realistically price. Everything has to be reconsidered, including price, until it finds its level again.”

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, saw a more upbeat position, saying Guildford continued: “…to display a trend of improving economic vitality, with the number of vacant units recorded in January 2019 declining when compared to both the previous quarter and the previous year.

“This demonstrates that businesses are still looking to Guildford as an area for investment and growth, and we continue to attract new and existing retail and leisure operations wishing to set up shop here.”

A survey by The Guildford Dragon NEWS in March 2018 counted 42 empty shops in the town centre, a marked increase of vacant shops since January 2018 (See: Further Signs of Strain on Town Centre Retail as Shops Collapse into Insolvency).

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