I'm today, 4 September, releasing the latest City Centre Management survey of vacant City Centre retail units (survey completed 3 September).

Key facts:
  • The latest Exeter vacancy rate stands at 6.96%.
  • Drops in Exeter vacancy figures continuing - 7.56% in March 2012, 7.41% in May and 7.10% in July.
  • The Exeter vacancy rate remains significantly better than the national average - a figure that currently stands at 12-5-14.5%.
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 9 areas are showing the same vacancy rate as contained in the July vacancy survey and 4 areas are showing fewer vacancies than in July (Fore Street, South Street, High Street and Sidwell Street).
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas surveyed, 6 areas are showing no vacancies at all.
 
 
Against a national backdrop that remains challenging, the latest Exeter vacancy figures are very encouraging. The 'John Lewis effect' remains a key factor behind the Exeter figures remaining so positive, with a significant number of retailers joining with John Lewis in recognising that Exeter City Center is a real success story - a success story they wish to be a part of.

There remain challenges ahead, but I remain confident that the broad trend for City Centre vacancy rates will be a downward one for the coming 6-12 months.

John Harvey
Exeter City Centre Manager

Tuesday 4 September 2012
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I'm today, 6 July, releasing the latest City Centre Management survey of vacant City Centre retail units (survey completed on 5 July).


Key facts:
  • The latest Exeter vacancy rate stands at 7.10%.
  • Drops in our vacancy figures continuing - 7.56% in March 2012, 7.41% in May & 7.10% in July.
  • The Exeter vacancy rate remains significantly better than the national average - a figure that currently stands at 12.5-14%.
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 9 areas are showing the same vacancy rate as contained in the May vacancy survey and 5 areas are showing fewer vacancies than in May (High Street, Paris Street, Harlequins Shopping Centre, Princesshay and Sidwell Street).
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 6 areas are showing no vacancies at all.




Against a national backdrop that remains challenging, the latest Exeter vacancy figures are excellent. There are a number of reasons for the Exeter figures remaining so positive - there's without doubt a 'John Lewis effect', but the substantial levels of investment in the City Centre over the last decade and the exciting vision for City Centre development over the next decade are also key factors.

Further announcements of new name retailers will come before the next set of retail vacancy figures are published in September 2012 and I'm confident that we will continue to see a downward trend with the retail vacancy figures throughout the remainder of this year. In the longer-term we will continue to see further imporvement as long as we can maintain the momentum of City Centre change, renewal and investment.

John Harvey
Exeter City Centre Manager

Friday 6 July 2012
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I was delighted to speak at a Redeeming Our Communities 'Conversation Event' (http://bit.ly/NJHYgV) at Exeter Cathedral last night (21 June). The event drew together representatives from a wide range of successful local community groups and services with partners from the police, church, fire and rescue service and local authority.

This is what I said...
Thank you for inviting me to the Redeeming Our Communities event this evening. I’m allowed a maximum of 5 minutes, so my remarks will be brief and to the point. I speak to you tonight not as a church goer or a member of a faith group, but as an individual that believes in exploring all avenues for strengthening our community. I also believe in supporting and empowering individuals who want to stand up for ‘the right thing’, believe in encouraging discussion of the uncomfortable and believe that it’s often better to stand up for what’s right rather than seek popularity. I also recognise that committing to supporting change as a group and feeling emboldened at an event such as this is the easy part – delivering change and standing up for what’s right when it’s not universally popular and when those around you are counselling you to take a different path is far from easy.

As Exeter City Centre Manager it has been a real honour to be at the centre of steering through the most radical period of city centre change and development for over 30 years. I’m sometimes proponent of change, sometimes deliverer of change, sometimes cheerleader in chief for Exeter, but frankly more often than not I’m the bringer of news and views that are uncomfortable for others but nonetheless really important. We have been going through an incredibly exciting period for the city centre and there is no doubt that the changes delivered over the last decade have allowed this city to meet current recessionary pressures head-on. It’s vital that we continue to deliver further radical surgery for our city centre, essential that we maintain a path of constant change, renewal and investment. I’m genuinely excited about the capacity for further development and change in Exeter, I’m genuinely excited about our capacity to cement our competitive position within the region and I’m genuinely excited at the confidence being shown in the city by an increasing number of businesses.

But let me be absolutely clear, I recognise that as critical as continued economic development and regeneration are, it’s really critical that we focus on community strengthening, development and regeneration too. If this city is to achieve its full economic potential, if it is to continue to develop and thrive, we must ensure that it is a ‘shop window’ for the community as a whole, that it is a resource for the whole community, that it is a place where the whole community feel welcome and secure, that it is a place where we celebrate diversity of views and give a warm welcome to every section of society. Those aspirations that I have set out need to apply 24/7 as well – we must ensure that Exeter ceases to change its dynamics in the evening and night-time period, as I’m afraid to say it all too often does.It’s also critically important that we have the confidence that we should have in our city centre and indeed in our city as a whole. Exeter is a special place, jam packed full of very special people and I want each and every one of you to celebrate your city, to celebrate your community, to actively support any projects that the Redeeming Our Communities initiative can facilitate that add value to our city.

Whilst Exeter is a success story at many levels, there’s no point in pretending that all is rosy in the garden. All the issues that confront society as a whole are mirrored on the patch… drug abuse… alcohol abuse… domestic violence and abuse… social breakdown… All real challenges to us that can’t be swept under the carpet. We’re a safe city – a safe city centre – but the challenges are real and we mustn’t be afraid to talk about them, be afraid of being challenged on them or be afraid of answering them with innovation and innovative partnerships. So I also want each of you to show tough love to those who need it, to those who engage in anti-social behaviour and to those whose behaviour damages our community and damages our enjoyment of this city.

This Redeeming Our Communities event has the potential to be a useful part of that process of community strengthening, development and regeneration, but it’s vital that I say the following:
  • There are strong business and community partnerships already operating in the city centre and within communities across the city, often with the City Council as a leader and enabler. It’s vital that any work that gathers pace under the banner of ROC is seen as complementary, as adding value, to those existing partnerships.
  • Partnerships for change take a long time to build, can be torn apart very quickly and are difficult to rebuild. There must be the discipline of strengthening and building on the good community partnerships that already exist, rather than seeking to replace existing and effective delivery frameworks.
  • We all want to see sustained and increased change for good within the Exeter community – it’s vital to stress that the Redeeming Our Communities is open to all and that its greatest chance of success is by reaching beyond faith communities to the broadest cross-section of the wider community.
I wish you luck this evening and in the period ahead. I hope you find common ground that enables the development of a wide range of initiatives that add value to existing partnerships and that make this city – a city that I love with a passion – an even better place to be.

Thank you


John Harvey
City Centre Manager

22 June 2012
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I’m today, 25 May, releasing the latest City Centre Management survey of vacant City Centre retail units (survey completed on 24 May).


Key facts:
  • The latest Exeter vacancy rate stands at 7.41%.
  • The Exeter vacancy rate remains significantly better than the national average – a figure that currently averages at 12.85%.
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 11 areas are showing the same vacancy rates as contained in the March vacancy survey, 2 areas are showing an increase (South Street and High Street) and 3 areas are showing fewer vacancies than in March 2012 (Guildhall, Princesshay and Sidwell Street).
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 6 areas are showing no vacancies at all.

 A breakdown of the number of vacant City Centre retail units is set out below -

The latest vacancy figures remain very encouraging, with a drop from the 'spike' shown in the March figures. I predicted that the vacancy figures would drop back from the March position and it's pleasing to see that prediction coming to fruition. A number of further deals are in the pipeline across the City Centre and I would now expect the downward trend in vacancy figures to continue in to the figures that will be published in July.

Taken within the context of UK wide recessionary pressures, consumers being reportedly worse off than a year ago and the recently recorded sharp fall in consumer spending, the latest Exeter vacancy figures are particularly encouraging. National challenges remain and it is more likely than not that there will be further national retailer casualties, with a knock-on effect on the Exeter figures. The reality is, however, that Exeter has consistently outperformed the UK average on retail vacancies and it is likely that this will remain the case.

There is no question that Exeter will continue to attract new retail names over the coming months. Exeter is a winning City Centre, with a winning vision for the future – a vision that John Lewis, Hollister, Bills, Cath Kidston and many other new name retailers and businesses will want to share with us over the coming year.

John Harvey
Exeter City Centre Manager

Friday 25 May 2012
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I’m today, 30 March, releasing the latest City Centre Management survey of vacant City Centre retail units (survey completed on 26 March).

Key facts: 
  • The latest Exeter vacancy rate stands at 7.56%.
  • The Exeter vacancy rate remains significantly better than the national average – a figure that has reached 14.6% according to the latest Local Data Company figures.
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 8 areas are showing the same vacancy rates as contained in the January vacancy survey, 5 areas are showing an increase (Guildhall Shopping Centre, Princesshay, Castle Street, High Street and Sidwell Street) and 3 areas are showing fewer vacancies than in January 2012 (Cheeke street, Paris Street and Gandy Street).
  • Of the 16 City Centre areas for which vacancies are listed, 6 areas are showing no vacancies at all.
A breakdown of the number of vacant City Centre retail units is set out below.

The latest vacancy figures remain very encouraging (although any increase in vacancy rates is, by definition, disappointing). It would be na├»ve to believe that Exeter could escape unscathed from the challenges to ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing and recessionary pressures being felt UK wide – recent casualties such as Peacocks and GAME result from national pressures rather than any local challenges. Exeter has consistently outperformed the UK average on retail vacancies and, more often than not, has had a vacancy rate that has been approximately half of the national average.

Latest national retail sales figures would suggest that the consumer squeeze remains and that the recovery in consumer spending is likely to be a ‘slow-burner’. This challenging environment means that Exeter’s performance in attracting major new retailer names is particularly encouraging.

I remain convinced that Exeter will continue to attract new retail names and that the uplift in City Centre retail vacancy figures is likely to be a blip rather than the a start of a medium term uplift. Exeter is a winning City Centre, with a winning strategic vision – a vision that more and more retailers and businesses will want to share.




John Harvey
Exeter City Centre Manager


Friday 30 March 2012
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