Middlebrook Retail & Leisure Park tops UK rankings

Middlebrook Retail & Leisure Park in Bolton continues has once again been ranked the number 1 retail park in the UK, in the latest ‘Definitive Guide to Retail and Leisure Parks’ review by Trevor Wood Associates.

The review, which saw Castlepoint in Bournemouth and Clifton Moor Centre in York, coming in at 2nd and 3rd place, looks at the state of the UK’s retail and leisure park industry.

Top 10 Retail Parks in the UK 2021

Other key notes from the report found that retail warehousing vacancy rates in the UK continued to rise and reached 8.2% at the end of 2020, with disposals, relocations and downsizing by retailers such as Argos, DW Sports and The Carphone Warehouse, plus administrations and CVAs, causing a considerable rise in available space.

Retail and Leisure Park Vacancy Rates

The continuing impact of Covid-19 on the retail industry has taken its toll and these latest findings do not take account of further Q1 2021 casualties. However, there were some positives to take from the latest review.

“During the past year, with little development taking place, second-hand supply helped the growth of a few dynamic retailers,” commented Liz Williamson of Trevor Wood Associate .

“There is continued demand for good quality units and a significant proportion of retail warehouse space vacated over the years by failed retailers continues to be successfully re-let, while a sizeable number of units are under offer. New entrants have helped to stabilise the market over the past few years.”

The total retail warehousing market grew marginally to 196.44 million sq ft in 2020. B & Q, remained by far the largest Retail Park tenant, with a combined 7.2 million sq ft. The largest space decrease was recorded by Harveys, while Argos continues to shed units. Sports Direct significantly increased their floorspace this year and returned to the top 20.

Savills is the leading retail warehousing letting agent, with instructions totalling over 27.5 million sq ft. while Curson Sowerby Partners has moved up to second place, replacing Avison Young, who are now third. Top managing agent is also Savills, with Workman moving past JLL to regain second place after a five year gap.

British Land return as the leading investment manager of Retail Parks in the UK, after a three year absence, while Aberdeen Standard Investments drop to second. Columbia Threadneedle Investments Partners rose to 4th place after significantly increasing their portfolio this year. British Land remains the number 1 direct property owner for both Retail Parks and Retail Warehousing.

Ms Williamson added: “It is interesting to note that despite a challenging few years, 38% of schemes built out in the last decade have opened since 2016. This includes schemes such as Peterlee Retail Park in North Shields and Bicester Shopping Park, both completed in 2020. Those driven by a leisure offer accounted for 28% of the schemes built out in the last decade.”

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