Trevor Wood research highlights a resilient retail and leisure park market

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Trevor Wood Associates has launched its Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks 2017, a comprehensive review which suggests the sector is faring well despite economic uncertainty. The retail consultancy’s flagship report, which incorporates rankings of schemes, owners, agents and tenants, reveals continued market growth, falling vacancy rates and appetite amongst key occupiers for well located second hand units.

Trevor Wood Associates has built up the most comprehensive retail warehousing database in the UK, with detailed information for every one of the 16,400 retail warehouse units currently trading or under construction. Its 2017 guide shows that despite economic pressures, the total retail warehouse market enjoyed marginal growth in 2016, incorporating 187.34 million sq. Most encouragingly, the retail warehousing vacancy rate fell to 5.3%, a rate lower than at any time since Trevor Wood’s analysis began at the end of 2001.

Although some big name retailers have continued to suffer in 2016, with the likes of Bhs and Netto put into administration or entered into a CVA, the research highlights a strong pool of expanding retailers keen to take second hand space. Last year, more than 5 million sq ft of floorspace was taken by retail park tenants, with 39 of the top 50 non-food tenants increasing their retail park presence. Expanding retailers include the likes of B & M, The Range, Poundland and Home Bargains.

This balance of supply and demand has meant rental levels have remained relatively stable, although a combination of lettings and late reviews saw the proportion of retail parks with peak rents between £25 per sq ft and £30 per sq ft rise by 15%.

The Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks also includes a series of league tables. The top 10 retail parks remained the same as last year, with Middlebrook Retail & Leisure Park in Bolton taking top spot thanks to a GV sq ft of 646,661. The top retail warehouse cluster was Westwood Road in Broadstairs, with a gross area of 1,120,538 sq ft , whilst the O2 Entertainment District in Greenwich was awarded the coveted title of the top leisure scheme, with 600,000 sq ft gross.

For the twelfth consecutive year, the guide named British Land the leading investment manager of retail parks in the UK. It also retained the title of the leading direct property owner, with IKEA edging past Hammerson into second position.

Wilkinson Williams was ranked the leading retail warehousing letting agent for the seventh year running, whilst Savills maintained its status as the leading retail warehousing managing agent, with more than 23 million sq ft of instructions.

Trevor Wood said: “This analysis shows that the market has remained buoyant over the past year and things look set to improve still further in the coming months, particularly when you consider we have featured  113 schemes thought likely to proceed before 2023 in our development pipeline. This pipeline is greater than at any time since our 2008 review.”