Rent Increases 'Driving Out' Independent Shops
Long time local trader says some agents have little concern for local economy
The owner of one of Chiswick's longest-running businesses has warned that independent traders are being forced out by inflated commercial rents.
Mike Moran of Top Hat Cleaners, in Devonshire Road, has criticised the rents being sought by salespeople at commercial estate agents- who often have "little concern for the local economy and little regard for whether a new venture succeeds".
He gave an example of a small trader in his street whose rent is being increased from £14,000 per year to £25,000 for a small shop. And he warns anyone thinking of setting up in business in Chiswick, to do their research in advance. In an article for chiswickw4.com, he writes;
"I may be only a humble dry cleaner not a consultant or economist but since I took control of the family business in 1984, I’ve learned a great deal about business. In the past 30 plus years, only once have I been approached by someone looking to open a business in a shop nearby, and it’s become increasingly obvious that many new traders do little or no local research. You may ask what I know businesses outside my own profession, but business is business, service is service and costs are costs.
Devonshire Road is mainly comprised of independent shops
"I also know Chiswick and know it’s not paved with gold. I know you need to be part of the local community; I know you need to provide quality and offer value for money. Most importantly for new businesses I know what actual rents are being paid and these figures are significantly different from those being sought by salespeople at commercial estate agents; agents who have little concern for the local economy and little regard for whether a new venture succeeds."
"Why should I care if someone signs a lease agreeing to an inflated rent? Well here on Devonshire Road we are likely to lose another small independent shop because the local commercial agent is trying to increase the rent from £14,000 per year to £25,000 for a small shop. I appreciate that the agent works for the landlord, and that both have their own right to earn a living, but they are using the rent being paid by a new business as the yard stick. New traders who accept agent rent figures miss the benefits of talking to exiting business owners and rent-payers; individuals that have free local knowledge with no profit motive.
"There are now a number of empty shops on Turnham Green Terrace and whilst this is not a good thing for business, perhaps it will be in the longer term - high rents and empty premises eventually lead to lower rents, but this is protracted process and empty units are demoralising and can push customers away from a retail area.
"I live in hope that landlords and agents will realise what high rents mean to the people, yes ‘real people’, that are trying to earn a living. They also need to realise that the High Street is changing with more being spent online each year which means less is spent in traditional shops. Surely it’s better to have someone with a track record of paying rent at a reasonable level than demand higher rents and have the new business go broke. The only beneficiary is – you’ve guessed it – the commercial agent who gets commission on the new lease!
"So if you are thinking of opening a business anywhere, do some basic research on the area. Go talk to the people that will be your neighbours, your new trading partners. Find out what the true story is on the things that will affect your new business. Overpaying on your rent is no laughing matter. Enthusiasm and entrepreneurship is great but do your research and make sure your rent offer is realistic. "
October 2, 2015