As at June 2012, all retail sales volumes and values were estimated to have increased by 1.6% and 1.9% on June 2011 respectively. Despite this, the early part of 2012 has seen values become largely stagnant across the board, with some centres experiencing falls. Prime pitches within the main Kent towns can and are still attracting occupiers, but the run of what is considered prime pitch is shortening. As a result vacancy rates have remained static with prospective tenants continuing to negotiate hard over deals and this, coupled with a cautious approach to commitment, has continued to impact transaction turnaround times which have, in large, been drawn out.
Further to the report carried out by Mary Portas, Ashford, Dartford, Margate and Medway have successfully won 'Portas Pilot' funding from the government to assist in regenerating the High Street. With a pot of £2.7m set to be shared between 27 winning centres, along with a tailored package of support from the government and Mary Portas, the funding aims to drive improved performance from the smaller independent retailers.
In contrast, larger stores continue to remain very cautious, with the demise of Clinton Cards reminding retailers of the need to correctly balance sales and overheads.
Development within town centres is thin on the ground with very little pipeline supply. However, Silvercoin Investments are to embark on the development of 576sqm (6,200sqft) of retail space with a 120-bedroom hotel above on the corner of St Georges Place, Canterbury. Supermarkets continue to surge as Sainsbury's completed an extension to their store in Sevenoaks in 2011 and Aldi constructed a new store in Maidstone which opened in May 2012. Aldi has also agreed terms with Legal and General to occupy the former Habitat store in Canterbury which provides 1,394sqm (15,000sqft) of sales space. A Lidl is also planned for Sevenoaks, while Waitrose also opened a new outlet at Kings Hill, West Malling in December 2011.
Kent continues to lure retail investors with yields ranging from 6.2% to 9% depending on covenant and location. High street shops are attracting greater numbers of smaller investors seeking better value resulting in falling capital values; the smaller investor often operates a proactive management approach. According to IPD (Investment Property Databank) the average yield of the High Street is 7.9%, 190 basis points higher than the wider market.
Two investments in Tunbridge Wells saw the Lower Pantiles being sold to Marquess of Abergavenny for £4m from Deloittes Ltd, the administrators of a subsidiary of Targetfollow, and Martin Moore Ltd purchased the freehold of 25 High Street for £1.05m.
Retail warehouse rents have remained steady this year following the rally of last year, with continued investment interest. Units 1-8 Wincheap Trade Park, Canterbury sold to Threadneedle Property Investments Ltd for £3.75m reflecting a net initial yield of 9%.
At Westwood Cross, Land Securities' retail park in Broadstairs, Primark opened the largest unit comprising 6,503sqm (70,000sqft) in October 2012. At the same time, plans for an extension to the park, including the addition of 720 new parking spaces have been revised and were out to public consultation in summer 2012 prior to a planning application being made.
|80 High Street,
||10 year lease
|13 Military Road,
||10 year with
in year 3
|1 Guildhall Street,
|129-131 High Street,
|Liberty Property Ltd
|70B High Street,
Walter & Randall
|27 High Street,
||Country Casuals Ltd
|24 St Peters Street,