Fringe Box



Shop News: ‘Everyone And His Dog Doing Deals With Landlords’

Published on: 10 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 11 Oct, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

Change in Guildford town centre is happening so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up.

Reduced rents are encouraging new shops to open despite footfall decreasing by 45% on the year to date.

“Everyone and his dog are doing deals with the landlords,” said Brett Parker, Head of Property for Gail’s Bakery which is opening soon in the Tunsgate Quarter.

New shops opening in the town centre while footfall crashes.

New and existing traders who spoke to The Dragon were quietly pleased as landlords were being forced down on rents with 40% reductions being reported and rent holidays being talked about.

But the larger landlords, such as pension funds, are not being “sympathetic” said Alex Bellion director of Owen Shipp, commercial property agents in Guildford.

Gails Bakery opening in the Tunsgate Quarter on October 29. “Guildford is exactly the right kind of market for us. The shop is perfect with wide pavements for outside eating,” said Brett Parker of Gails Bakery.

The list of new shops, and those soon to open, includes Tattam’s in Tunsgate, MacDonald’s at the bottom of North Street (where Jamie Oliver’s Italian was), Lululemon and Gadget Xpert in the High Street, a new Co-op at the top of upper High Street, a rebranded Koja in Jeffries Passage, Ceylon House of Coffee in the High Street and Robin Mullen Art in Market Street.

Tattam’s owner, Tom Flanagan, with a broken arm from a football accident, said Tattam’s cafe and cocktail bar will open on October 13. He said: “There are opportunities, it is a good time to start. We are really excited about the opening.”

But there is a long list of shops recently closed or that haven’t reopened since lockdown.

The list includes Gap and Gap Kids leaving a huge gap in the High Street, Flight Centre and Costa Coffee in Swan Lane, Trespass and Laura Ashley in North Street, Burger King also in North Street, Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, Moka in The Friary, Trotters in White Lion Walk, Fresco Delikafessen in Friary Street, Charlie Kingham Kitchens in Chertsey Street, Pims Kitchen and the TSB in the upper High Street.

Alex Bellion Director Owen Shipp.

Alex Bellion said: “There is good demand for local village shop parades but town centres are tough at the moment.

“Independents continue to be robust because they are offering niche products with good quality and customer service.

“They are also communicating with their landlords and paying rent, unlike the chains who seem to be burying their heads in the sand.”

A report in the Guardian said major property owners such as Landsec, owners of Bluewater, and British Land, owner of the Meadowhall centre in Sheffield, were “waiting to receive more than half of due rental payments” from their retail tenants.

MacDonald’s opening on October 21 in North Street may not be good news for the MacDonald’s branch in The Friary which is said to be only continuing on a six-month trial.

Alex said: “Guildford used to be considered one of the strongest high streets in the country but there isn’t a queue to take on High Street shops now.

“We are getting good interest for retail premises but as bars or gyms or serviced offices, not necessarily for shops.”


Lululemon, the yoga and active wear shop, has opened up a new store right next to the Guildhall, moving out of their premises in the Tunsgate Quarter.

Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford, said: “Guildford has more empties. Show me a town centre that doesn’t at the moment. 

“As always our independents are thriving with a very local and loyal customer base. It is in the next year we will see more changes to the town centre’s make up for sure. But a town centre which evolves with its community at heart will be the stronger for it in the long run.”

Peak Performance, the ski clothing specialist in Market Street, was sufficiently confident of its own performance to give the shop another year “to see if it works.” said owner, David Walton.

Lead for Economy at Guildford Borough Council, John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “I would like to set up a forum with landlords or their agents, together with Experience Guildford, to look realistically at what residents really need and want in their town centre.

“You can only have so many clothes shops, shoe shops and estate agents in a town centre and by encouraging fringe independent retailers, Guildford would become a much more interesting and vibrant shopping experience.”

Local artist, Robin Mullen, has opened his new gallery in Market Street.

Ceylon House of Coffee opened in the summer in the High Street.

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test One Response to Shop News: ‘Everyone And His Dog Doing Deals With Landlords’

  1. Susan Hibbert Reply

    October 11, 2020 at 10:07 am

    I agree with John Redpath that fringe and independent retailers should be encouraged, as that will lead to a more diverse and interesting town centre which will command local loyalty and be more resilient in the long run.

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