The commercial property sector is improving gradually and we are optimistic that this will continue across Lancashire in 2015, writes Danny Pinkus, partner at commercial agent Robert Pinkus & Co in Preston.
The industrial sector continues to improve at the fastest pace and this is where we expect to see the first signs of activity for any new developments. We hope to see more speculative development opportunities come to fruition, taking the lead from some key sites already in the pipeline such as a new development at Red Scar Business Park, East Preston. The speculative industrial development by Tustin Developments is to provide 13 new single storey business units, half of which are already under offer to a single occupier which plans to move in on completion in early spring. We expect that the remainder will be quickly taken up and we hope other developers will follow suit with similar schemes to plug the gap in the market.
The city centre office market remains difficult but there are signs that this sector is starting to improve, albeit at a slower pace. We have seen some activity where landlords have refurbished accommodation to a good standard and it is this good quality product that stands the best chance of securing a tenant.
Evidence of this can be seen at Himor's key signing at city centre Norwest Court to Profile Financial Solutions who took over 6,000 sq ft. A further 36,480 sq ft went to NCO Europe at New City House and Tustin Court on Preston Docklands is now fully let. Around 20,000 sq ft at Bluebell House at East Preston was let to Baker Tilly and further sales of The Old Dock House and 11 Eastway, North Preston are all signs that things are improving. However, there is still an oversupply of poorer quality office space and we look forward to seeing further investment in the refurbishment and redevelopment of key business quarters such as the historic Winckley Square, Preston.
We have definitely seen evidence of investor confidence returning to the prime sector. Multi-let industrial estates remain sought after generally, as do well located high street retail opportunities, albeit at particularly competitive yields. Three recent investment sales include Blackpool Trade Park at Vicarage Lane Blackpool, Lincoln Park Industrial Estate, Walton Summit and Buckshaw Office Park, Chorley. Appetite for Preston and surrounds has increased as investors look beyond traditional centres such as London, Manchester and Liverpool for better value for money.
Retail is slowly starting to improve within Preston city centre as Turtle Bay Caribbean Restaurant and Tesco Express move onto the high street. We hope to see more initiatives to bolster the entertainment and leisure offering to help secure some of the bigger, national retail brands for the city, which in turn will hopefully stimulate the retail sector. Further afield Better Bathrooms continue with their aggressive expansion plans and their UK wide new store roll out. Having opened retail warehouses in Leicester, Slough and York this year, a further six are currently under offer for a 2015 opening and the bathroom retailer has an appetite for many more locations across the UK.
Overall it has been another tough year but as confidence returns, we hope to see more opportunities emerge across all sectors and locations. We will continue to do what we do best which is to offer our clients sound, honest commercial property advice to ensure they get the most out of their property assets.
Pinkus & Co figures for the year:
- 27% up on total amount of deals
- 24% up on leases transactions
- 38% up on sale transactions
- 53% on acquisitions completed