Top retailer and hotel brands race for a place in Bath
Date of Article
Feb 13 2015

Keep informed

Sign up to our newsletter to receive further information and news tailored to you.

Sign up now

13 February 2015, Shop vacancy rates in Bath are at near-record lows thanks to huge demand from top retail brands. With a waiting list to secure a lease, demand for such prime retail units has meant that rents have increased in the past year by 10% to £200 per sq ft as the availability of space declines, according to “Bath Retail, Hotel & Leisure Spotlight 2015”, a research report by Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy.

A survey of Bath’s streets has shown that average vacancy rates have fallen to 2.0%, with just 20 shops of Bath’s 1,008 retail units available to rent as at December 2014. Vacancy rates have been falling since 2013 as a total of 23 retailers opened new premises during 2014, with six others relocating to larger premises, with new brands entering the market such as Kiehls,, Brissi, and Hay as the allure of Bath and its high footfall thanks to its place on the international stage, has resulted in a unique and hugely buoyant retail offer. Also, 16 new restaurants or cafés opened in the City 2014.

Union Street remains the most expensive area although New and Old Bond Street have witnessed a considerable change and improvement of tenant profile and rental increases.

Hotel brands have also dominated with a total 491 additional bedrooms to be completed by 2016 as Premier, Gainsborough, Z Hotels and Apex Hotels all enter the market.

Mike McElhinney, retail partner at the Carter Jonas’ Bath office said: “Bath has seen many great retail brands arrive in 2014 as it continues to attract more London and continental specialist retailers opening their first provincial outlets. Retail space is at a premium at the moment which is why we are forecasting rental increases. But Bath will continue to strengthen its reputation as a City of retail innovation that welcomes and pioneers new concepts and London brands with lifestyle stores such as recent arrivals Brissi and Hay in Milsom Street and fashion retailer Anthropologie in New Bond Street.”

The increased volume and range on offer across the hospitality sector will continue to drive up visitor numbers to the City, attracting further investment in that sector.

Mike McElhinney continued: “We need more bedrooms to accommodate the tourism and so it’s welcomed that we have leading brand hotels being constructed. Also by 2016, Bath will have its first casino complex in the Sawclose leisure scheme. We predict that Bath University and Bath Spa University will expand their influence on the Bath economy with increasing numbers of foreign students targeting the City, attracted by the high ratings of those institutions and the vibrant cosmopolitan lifestyle of City centre living in a World Heritage City.”

Tourism remains a key sector for Bath with the Roman baths attracting 1.2 million visitors in 2013, more than the Eden Project and the Houses of Parliament.

The electrification of the Great Western railway line by 2017 will mean that train times from Bath to London will reduce to one hour, which will not only help to make Bath more accessible as a tourist destination but impact house prices.

David Mackenzie, partner in Carter Jonas’ residential department added: “Bath is such a desirable location and has always been a popular place to live. As we have seen new and established retail brands flock to our City, we have seen property prices increase during the past year with the Land Registry recording a 6.2% to October 2014. The fact that London will be brought even closer to us once the rail line has been upgraded will only add to Bath’s attractiveness and we except property prices to continue unabated as demand for houses increase and Bath be reinforced as a global tourist destination.”

Download our research report, Retail View - Bath.