The ‘Friars Walk effect’ boosts prime retail rents in Wales

Bristol launch of the Colliers International Midsummer Retail Report. Left to right: Nick Turk, Retail Director; Katie Bapty, Retail Lease Advisory Director; Hal Clarke, Retail Agency South Surveyor; Matt Thompson, Head of Retail Strategy.

The new Friars Walk shopping centre in Newport has provided a boost to annual figures for prime retail rents in Wales, but overall the results are less positive.

The latest review by commercial property specialist Colliers International of the UK shopping scene, which monitors rents and empty shops across the country in 421 locations across the country, has shown that only four of the locations in Wales tracked for annual performance have shown any growth.

Nick Turk, retail director at Colliers International for Wales, explained: “The main highlight of the year for retail in Wales was the opening of Friars Walk in Newport where lettings have helped boost the overall prime rental profile in Wales. Here rents increased to £75 per sq ft.

“Technically, these results showed that average prime rental growth was recorded for Wales for the past year, but this has been heavily influenced by new lettings in Newport. The reality is that average rents were down in Wales if one ignores the rental increases in Friars Walk, which took prime rental levels up by from £30 per sq ft to £75 per sq ft.”

Mr Turk was speaking at the launch of the Colliers International Midsummer Retail Report for Wales and the South West at the Showcase Cinema de Lux in Bristol.

The report gives authoritative ‎perspectives across the UK shopping scene by looking at the trends and innovations which are shaping the country’s retail sector and its property market. It monitors rents and empty shops across the country in 420 locations across the UK.

The title of this year’s report is ‘Survival of the Fittest’, and the report examines how retail and property have adapted to the seismic geopolitical changes of the past 12 months.

Mr Turk said: “It now appears that after a prolonged period stabilisation, the South West is now moving forward with re-based rents, sustained occupier demand and relatively constrained supply.

“The story from Wales is not as positive with only four centres showing an increase in rents, namely Aberystwyth, Caerphilly, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest. However, although Wales is less strong it has been bolstered by the Friars Walk opening in Newport.”

He added: “There is also very little development activity in Wales with the proposed redevelopment of Neath town centre being the only substantial project under consideration.”