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Pub fortunes improve, says Plymouth commercial property firm

The pub, leisure, residential and property management sectors all saw an improvement in 2013, a leading commercial property firm has revealed.

Vickery Holman’s comprehensive look at the commercial property landscape, The Market 2013-14, was launched to leading business professionals at the National Marine Aquarium last week.

A preview in the Herald’s Business section last week revealed how it said Plymouth has a lack of quality industrial premises and its retail market continues to struggle.

But the document also predicted 2014 should see a return to growth generally.

Among the details in the document is that the pub sector experienced “a resurgence”.

Vickery Holman associate Nicola Murrish said it was being driven by a “relaxed, informal style of dining and drinking”.

She highlighted two brands in particular: Wetherspoons – whose Plymouth pubs include the Union Rooms, the Britannia, Gog and Magog, the Mannamead and the Stannary Court – and Loungers, which runs the Royal William Yard’s Seco Lounge.

She also highlighted the growth in microbreweries, but warned there could come a “tipping point” against the large pubcos which “could spell the end of the much-maligned tied agreements”.

She said: “On the whole, the outlook for the sector is relatively buoyant and upbeat”.

The report, which specifically targets the Devon and Cornwall markets, also highlighted an improvement in the residential market, fuelled by Government initiatives such as Help to Buy.

But it said average house price growth in the South West has only been at 2.12 percent, compared to 9.33 percent in London.

But there has been an improvement in housing sales and demand remains high.
Surveyor Anthony Eke, based at Vickery Holman’s Plymouth office in Lockyer Street, spotlighted Millbay’s Cargo 2 apartment block, which saw 20 out of 36 units sold off-plan, and all selling eventually.

“The flat market is seeing some signs of success,” he said.

Meanwhile, head of valuation service Robert Beale described 2013 as “the season the leisure market had been waiting for”.

He named last year’s hot summer as a key reason behind a hike of one percent to two percent in occupancy levels at tourist destinations.

But, he said, this did not affect business transactions and suspected the difficulties in sourcing finance may be the reason.

Director Justin Armstrong said the property management sector was improved, with landlords’ flexibility on lease terms and rents helping to fill units. He said: “One managed industrial estate in Plymouth has just hit 100 percent occupancy for the first time in quite a few years.”


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