Bath riding out national high street slowdown as retailers continue to target city for new stores

February 9, 2024

Bath’s retail property market was “remarkably resilient” last year despite the cost of living crisis hitting high streets across the UK, according to a new report.

Bath remained a firm favourite for national chains while food and drink operators continued to target the city, analysis by South West commercial property agents Aldert King shows.

Its latest Market Monitor says 2023 was “marked by a surge in retail lettings” and a notable number of units were currently under offer.

Bath has traditionally attracted big name and upmarket retail groups due to its wealthy catchment area and strong tourist economy.

Among major national brands taking space in the city centre last year were women’s fashion stores Monsoon, Mint Velvet and Zara, while handcrafted furniture and homeware store group The Cotswold Company opened its ninth outlet on Northgate Street in December. The 4,000 sq ft srore created eight jobs.

Bath’s popularity for retailers was reflected in rental levels for city centre units, with the headline rent remaining at £175 per sq ft for the second year running compared to other centres such as Bristol, where retail rents plummeted by an average of 44%, and Cardiff where they fell by 11%.

However, headline rents on leisure-related properties tumbled from £35 per sq ft to £25. 

The city’s office property market, while subdued last year, is poised for a better 2024 as a number of deals complete.

Take-up of office space fell by 40% to 55,000 sq ft in total last year, according to Alder King office partner Tom Dugay. 

He said the most noticeable deal of 2023 was the sale of around 14,000 sq ft at Plymouth House on Monmouth Street to Avon and Somerset Police. 

Other success included Newark Works, pictureda collection of Grade II listed Victorian industrial buildings at Bath Quays that were originally home to crane manufacturer Stothert & Pitt.

Some 13,000 sq ft was let to at the development to a number of tenants, including L&C Mortgages, the UK’s largest fee-free broker, which acquired 4,864 sq ft.

While headline rents in the city centre remained at £36 per sq ft, as achieved at Royal Mead in Railway Place, Tom added: “There is expectation that this could increase during 2024 with deals anticipated at several of the city’s most high-profile buildings.” 

Demand for good quality industrial and warehousing space remained strong, the report adds, pointing out that take-up was the highest for seven years. At the same time, supply was extremely tight and typically restricted to second-hand stock at The Maltings and Brassmills estates. 

“With no speculative development expected, occupiers are forced to look outside the city, towards east Bristol or around Chippenham,” said Alder King partner Andrew Ridler.

Significant investment deals in the Bath market included AEW REIT’s acquisition of the freehold of Cambridge House on Henry Street from Threadneedle for £11.5m.

The 50,000 sq ft building, next to the SouthGate shopping centre, is let to five office and retail tenants.



Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across the Bath area for just £75 a month. Email for more information.