Inside job

Clare Dowdy finds that the continued recovery in the property market is benefitting designers. Pamela Buxton looks at new developments in retail interiors.

The state of the interiors sector is closely tied to the buoyancy of the property market, indicating the opportunities for design whether they be in retail, leisure or office interiors.

Commercial property continued to recover in the third quarter of 1999, driven by the strong economy, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest Commercial Market Survey. Chartered surveyors expect to see rising demand in all three commercial sectors (office, retail and industrial), fuelling expectations of rental growth, particularly in London.

In the retail property market, says the RICS report, expectations of increasing demand and a shortage of floorspace have raised expectations that rents will increase in the last quarter. The retail warehouse sector has failed to perform as well as prime retail sites, reflecting the tough pricing climate in the goods sector.

Retail Intelligence senior retail analyst Steve Davies has noticed sports shops moving to out-of-town or high street superstores, while DIY chains like Homebase are adding large outlets.

On the high street, Davies expects mobile phone shops to be the most active retail sector, with the number of such shops continuing to increase. BT, for example, continues to roll out its stores designed by 20/20. Meanwhile, several clothing chains are expanding, he says, citing New Look, Next and Matalan. “Convenience stores are still a relatively new concept in the UK,” he says, active retailers being Sainsbury’s, Alldays and T&S. Davies says of the electronics and games shops: “This is still a market with plenty of momentum.”

Meanwhile, new retail developments have picked up, says the RICS. This is largely due to a rebound in development in the North, having been weak in recent quarters. The number of new developments has also risen in the South, but has shown little change in London.

Confidence in the retail property market was very weak towards the end of last year, but has recovered slowly since then, according to the RICS. This has occurred as retail sales growth and consumer confidence have strengthened.

Take-up of office floorspace rose in the third quarter, signalling a continued recovery in the sector. The upturn suggests better economic conditions are helping support increased tenant demand for office property, says the report.

Economic activity is picking up, especially in business services and the financial sector, lending strong support to demand for office space. This has been most evident in central London.

David Rosen of estate agency Pilcher Hershman & Partners says: “There is a boom going on,” and all the creative sectors are buoyant – from law firms to ad agencies. Design continues to play an important role in the marketing of buildings, particularly the design of reception areas. “It’s the first thing a prospective tenant sees,” he says. He has noticed a shift away from the wacky reception areas of the Eighties in favour of a simpler modernism.

New office development activity over the next year is seen as rising nationally, led by the central London market, says the RICS.

Confidence in the office occupier market has risen to its highest level since early 1998 – reflecting greater optimism over the economic climate in the UK and the rest of the world. “This compares starkly with the gloom that prevailed at the end of last year,” says the report.

{storyLink (“DW199911190045″,”Retail clients”)

{storyLink (“DW199911190046″,”Karen Millen”)

{storyLink (“DW199911190047″,”Modelzone”)

{storyLink (“DW199911190048″,”Granada”)

Latest articles