‘Wells continues to punch above its weight’

February 28 2018
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Paul Knight of Wells chartered surveyors RMW Knight assesses the commercial situation in Wells city centre

WE have seen a great deal of disconcerting commentary on social media regarding the number of available shops to let in the city centre of Wells over the last month or so.

Despite the fact that this can be an unsettling time for those staff employed in the shops that are scheduled to close, we can reassure everyone that Wells still is regarded as an attractive retail destination by local, regional and national retailers and that, with the possible exception of the former Co-Op supermarket, there is strong occupier demand in all of the available space

For a conurbation of its size, Wells continues to punch above its weight.

It is not untypical for retailers to undergo a review of their portfolio at this time of the year and we regard this as an opportunity for the city to refresh its offer and give an opportunity to other retailers to gain representation in our city centre.

Wells is unusual inasmuch as, it being a medieval city, it does not have the standard size and shape shops that would appeal to the majority of national multiples and, therefore, still affords opportunities for local and regional operators to gain representation in the city.

There is, of course, national trend towards out of town and online retail and there are many larger city centres with a good proportion of the available retail space sitting vacant as a result of an oversupply of retail space relative to current demand.

It is our view that experiential retailers (ie. those offering a service such as hairdressers, tattoo parlours, nail bars, coffee shops, restaurants, shoe shops and opticians) where there is a degree of personal interaction required, will continue to thrive.

It is a long time since anybody could buy ‘bulky goods’ in town centres as retailers of white goods, furniture and DIY products have tended to locate to purpose-built sheds in out of town locations.

Retail expansion is, of course, a closely guarded secret by most retailers and sadly we are unable to breach client confidentialities as to who might be taking what space but we are optimistic that the majority of the available space will be taken up by the summer and that there will be a broader choice for young and old.