“Demand at the moment is outstripping supply” – Our Interview with Matt Clarke from Stupples Chandler Garvey
As part of our focus on the South East of England this July, we chatted to the Divisional Director at Stupples Chandler Garvey Matt Clarke to get his insight into the commercial property market in High Wycombe and the South East in general.
So how has the market been looking so far in 2014?
“There is a good spike of optimism at the moment. High Wycombe specifically has seemed to have a really good run of people looking there and thinking actually, it is a good location.”
Being outside of London, with transport links into the city, High Wycombe is a location that has been growing in popularity for office space, something that Matt attributes to several factors: “With it being slightly cheaper than the surrounding areas, it means people who are still looking for quality, but not wanting to pay the prices for Grade A offices, are finding Wycombe a good option.”
However, the demand for the highest type of office has naturally increased and High Wycombe is not alone in anticipating a lack of supply. Stupples Chandler Garvey has therefore seen that people have to look at alternative occupation: “The demand at the moment is outstripping supply, certainly for Grade A office space. Instead, people are looking at very good quality Grade B options or refurbishing units that they may not have done so before and it’s brining some schemes that have had quite a barren run back to occupation.”
In terms of the economic recovery and the commercial property market, there have been widespread reports that London has been the main beneficiary. “London generally does quite well” says Matt, “but you see bubbles in different areas going up and continuing to go up. Offices in Maidenhead could be £30-£35 a foot and if you look at High Wycombe for comparable prices, it could be over £10 a foot cheaper. That is an awful lot of staff that you can pay for by locating in a different area.”
Another highly documented story has been the steady increase in vacant high street retail units, something we recently discussed in our high street revival article on the NovaLoca blog. Matt says Stupples Chandler Garvey have certainly seen signs of a high street resurgence in Wycombe and it is something that he has been actively involved with.
“We’ve seen a lot of independents coming out and testing the water again. They’re seeing that there is a bit more confidence and very much seeing that his could be a good opportunity to open the cafe that they have been thinking about opening for so long.”
Matt recently compiled a report on the retail availability in Wycombe and was startled to see the number of empty or vacant retail properties that were snapped up in a relatively short amount of time.
A major draw for the town is the Eden Shopping Centre, which Matt feels attracts high profile shoppers that would rival the centres of Walton-on-Thames and Guilford; but while the shopping centre is a great pull, Matt thinks there is still plenty of opportunity for high street retailers to thrive.
“There are really good stores in the Eden Centre, but you can’t get everything you want. There really is a demand for additional good quality restaurants on the high street. I would love to have one of the big chains here for dining before and after an evening out at The Swan theatre, because they would do so well.”
The picture painted by Matt of High Wycombe certainly matches the optimism that is being felt across the industry and the results that Stupples has been seeing in 2014 certainly reflecting that.
“We’ve just recruited a couple of members of staff to reflect that we are very busy at the moment, which is great. We’re transacting a lot of space and working very hard to get more stock. We’re also taking a lot more acquisition work, both in this area and throughout the region, which is exciting.”
For Stupples Chandler Garvey it has been a great first half of 2014 and certainly with the positive comments from Matt, it seems there is no reason why things won’t continue to grow for the remainder of the year.