Alworths comes to Llandudno

Graham Soult

Retail consultant, writer, blogger; helping retailers via and Say hello on Twitter at @soult!

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12 Responses

  1. Graham Soult says:

    That’s exactly my understanding Dave! Since the reform of empty property relief in 2008 (where only the first three months of a property being empty are now exempt from business rates), there has also been a bigger incentive for landlords to see their properties rapidly reoccupied.

    The irony, of course, is that Alworths took advantage of a similar flexible deal in Amersham, only to get booted out at short notice to let Waitrose move in! However, not that Alworths is more established and has proven successful, I imagine that it is signing longer-term leases.

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Graham, I was just re-reading your post and I started wondering about Publishers Book Clearance, who seem to inhabit vacant shops that are still available to rent (they’ve moved 3 times in Llandudno, to my knowledge!). I take it they have some sort of short term lease at (I assume) a significant discount to the asking price for a normal lease, on the understanding that the premises will still be marketed and they would be forced to move on with relatively little notice? If that is the case, then it seems like a smart way for a business like theirs to get a good location at relatively low cost.

  3. Graham Soult says:

    Thanks for that Dave – sounds positive (though from a NE perspective, we have more than enough Greggs already!)

  4. Dave says:

    Llandudno’s main shopping street, Mostyn Street, has been recovering strongly this year. Besides Alworths, we’ve had a branch of Greggs open, Pandora opened a few months ago, and both Animal Clothing and Past Times are currently readying units for opening.

  5. Graham Soult says:

    Thanks John – I’d just seen that story about the Alworths relocation in Didcot!

    I believe the current Alworths unit in Didcot is about twice the size of most of the other Alworths stores (i.e. 10,000 sq ft compared to 5,000 or 6,000 sq ft), so perhaps they are finding that the smaller stores are working better anyway.

  6. John says:

    Although I have been down to that retail park (to Argos) I haven’t really looked at the other shops there. Having said that, general trade in Heanor appears not to have been adversely affected by those new shops, and that rent does seem cheap.

    As to alworths, their first branch is relocating within that Didcot shopping centre soon – it appears that they, too, were on a temporary cheap lease.


  7. Graham Soult says:

    I should ask my parents, John – I was brought up in Heanor, and would have been taken to Woolies in my pushchair in the mid 1970s!

    It will be interesting to see where Alworths heads next – with stores in the south, Scotland and now Wales, there is still a big gap in the Midlands and north of England.

    In Heanor, however, I remember seeing when I was there in December that the nearby Heanor Retail Park featured Argos Extra, Poundstretcher and Home Bargains, so perhaps there wouldn’t be room for another variety store?

  8. John says:

    The 3750 sq ft is the gf sales area. There is also the first and second floor which together are a further 4400 sq ft. But it is being advertised in the basic info as three floors at the 3750 (without explaining that that is just the gf sales area). So I reckon there is an issue with the marketing. I got the floor area details from the rates information on the Valuation Agency site.

    I didn’t know the store years ago, but it is possible that it was originally a two floor store which was reduced to gf only.

    The actual rates payable would currently be about £9k per year (with the upstairs rated as storage).

    I certainly think it would be worth alworths (who might well know what the Woolworths turnover was there) exploring the matter, in the light of the low rent.

    I think that anyone who takes the agents basic details on face value who is not familiar with the premises would be put off straight away.

    I was in Heanor yesterday, and spotted, in a window display further along the road, some large old photos of the town centre from years ago. Ands in one, that branch could be seen with the old “F W Woolworth & Co Ltd” fascia in the gold solid lettering on the red background. Oh to return to that era.

  9. Graham Soult says:

    Thanks for the update John!

    Are you suggesting that the store in Heanor would be tempting for Alworths, or just in general?

  10. John says:

    As to temporary tenants of ex-Woolworths branches leaving, that has recently happened to the branch at Heanor in Derbyshire, where the Lighthouse charity shop (which you showed in another blog) have relocated to the nearby shop left vacant when Ethel Austin failed.

    So it is empty again and still has the “To Let” sign up, and when I checked, the asking rent is now down to £10k p.a. I would have thought that at that low level, even though it is a smaller branch (about 3750 sq ft) that it would be tempting.

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