The retail consultancy will unveil the findings of its flagship report, the Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks 2017, at a presentation this morning at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, hosted by Lambert Smith Hampton.
The comprehensive review shows that, although Northern Ireland’s vacancy rate remains the highest in the UK at 8.3 per cent at Q4 2016, the proportion of empty units has fallen by 30 per cent since Q4 2015. This represents a sharp decrease at a faster rate than any other region.
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. The 2017 guide shows that, despite economic pressures, the total retail warehouse market enjoyed marginal growth in 2016, incorporating 187.34 million sq ft.
The UK retail warehousing vacancy rate fell to 5.3 per cent, lower than at any time since Trevor Wood’s analysis began at the end of 2001.
Trevor Wood, senior partner of Trevor Wood Associates, said: “The vacancy rate in Northern Ireland is encouraging news and suggests that although struggling retailers continue to be put into administration or entered into a CVA, there is a queue of expanding occupiers ready to take second hand space.
“Recent openings include The Range in the former B & Q at Braidwater Retail Park in Ballymena, Home Bargains in both Bridgewater Retail Park and Holywood Exchange and Go Outdoors and Smyths Toys at Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey. With several other units under offer, the vacancy rate is likely to drop still further during 2017.”
Last year in the UK, 39 of the top 50 non-food tenants increased their retail park presence. In Northern Ireland, the top 5 retail park tenants were named as B&Q, Bunnings Warehouse and Marks & Spencer, Next and B & M.
The guide also includes a series of league tables. North Belfast’s Cityside Retail Park retained its 5th position in the top 20 ranking of retail and leisure parks with 365,369 sq ft gross and also ranked 25th in the guide’s Top 100 retail parks. Lambert Smith Hampton’s Belfast office was instructed as sole leasing agent for Cityside in February.
Three other Northern Ireland schemes featured in that list - Coleraine’s Riverside Retail Park, Crescent Link Retail Park in Londonderry and Lisburn’s Sprucefield Park.
Meanwhile, Longwood Road in Newtownabbey was ranked 20th in the list of the UK’s top retail warehouse clusters and Odyssey Pavilion in Belfast came 31st in the list of the top 50 leisure schemes.
Marathon Asset Management was ranked Northern Ireland’s top investment manager for both retail parks and retail warehousing.
Ian Henton, retail director of Lambert Smith Hampton, added: “The retail market in Northern Ireland is doing very well at the moment and Trevor Wood’s research suggests things will continue to improve over the next year. Taken with the company’s recent analysis of shopping centres, which also showed upbeat figures, we are optimistic for the future of retail as a whole in Northern Ireland.”