Jamie joined Rapleys in July 2022 as a Graduate Surveyor within the Automotive and Roadside team. Working with the team, Jamie will further his experience and develop his knowledge of the sector whilst undertaking the apc process.

Prior to joining Rapleys, Jamie worked at OpenArch properties as a Graduate Surveyor. In this role he was responsible for looking after commercial properties, dealing with leasing and letting/landlord and tenant matters.


As published in The Times on 26 September 2022.


Two thirds of motor dealership showrooms are among the least energy-efficient workplaces and face debilitating lighting, heating and air quality bills this winter.

Investors increasingly shun businesses with the worst EPC, or energy performance certificate, ratings. The property consultancy Rapleys reckons that 3,000 of the country’s 4,500 dealership showrooms come with the worst ratings of E, F or G.“

Dealerships are typically large properties with extensive glazing requiring huge amounts of lighting, heating and compressed air,” it said. Soaring bills are not the only issue. “Come 2025, all assets must be E grade or higher to be able to be leased or transacted but there are reports that some lenders are already ignoring anything less than a B grade EPC in order to future-proof their portfolios and protect values.”

Rapleys added: “Now, with the focus on electric vehicles, traditional structures are struggling to support charging points on their existing supply, let alone the rising costs of energy.” Lee Fraine, head of sustainable buildings at Rapleys, said: “Typically car dealerships have always focused most of their investment in the brand and aesthetics of their showrooms. Now the race is on to retrofit in order to support both the future and value of these businesses.”

To read the article in full click here.

Thomas works within the Automotive & Roadside team as a Surveyor and is located in the Manchester office.

Thomas graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2018 and has a background in commercial property management, specialising in Retail.

Thomas joined Rapleys as a Graduate Surveyor in 2022 and has recently Enrolled for his APC choosing Commercial Real Estate as his desired pathway.

The Government has recently put forward a number of proposals to help with the cost of living crisis, with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggesting that MOTs should be required every 2nd year rather than annually. At present, an MOT is required every year for vehicles more than 3 years old and has to be undertaken by one of the 23,647 licensed operators.

Government figures confirm that in 2021 there were just under 32 million MOT’s undertaken in Great Britain, including motorcycles and commercial vehicles. A number of bodies such as the AA and the IGA have already raised concerns about potential issues with higher longer-term repair bills and potential road safety. However, assuming the rise in bills was a short-term rather than permanent measure, then it’s unlikely to have a major impact on the majority of occupiers. This will impact workshop profitability and we could see some operators having to consider their options, however, the additional cost of vehicle repair bills could offset this.

With significant upwards pressure on industrial and workshop rent, we could foresee some operators considering their options especially if they are close to a lease end. Demand for industrial units fit for other uses such as home delivery distributions has had a major upwards pressure on industrial values –  with demand significantly outstripping supply. In some parts of London, we have seen rents double in the last 5 years, and if workshop operators are facing a further loss of income from the lack of MOTs, this could mean operators are better off considering alternative uses going forward.

As we look to the future and shift to electrical vehicles, we expect workshops to be smaller and cleaner due to significantly fewer moving parts than a traditional combustion engine. Bearing this in mind, the need for workshops could alter as vehicle owners would require minimal mechanical input for an electrical battery.

If you have a workshop or are a landlord of a workshop and want to discuss your options in confidence please contact Mark Frostick, Senior Associate at Rapleus Automotive & Roadside team.

As published in Property Week on 27 April 2022.


Growth of EVs and the need for more charging points have reportedly boosted the roadside sector.

Daniel Cook, head of Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team at Rapleys explains how the smaller players in the fuel sector will struggle with the high setup cost and relatively low margins.

“Availability of locations and availability of power are the biggest problems. We have seen quotes north of £2m to connect 12 charging points recently,” remarks Cook.

Size does matter – Mark Frostick, Senior Associate reports “Forecourts have generally been getting larger, and almost any new site being constructed is going to be offering a full C-store with food-to-go offers,”

To read the article in full, click here.

Mike joined Rapleys in January 2021 as a Surveyor in the Retail & Leisure Group. Prior to joining Rapleys, he worked at a boutique cross-sector agency in London, acting for a range of landlords, occupiers and developers to acquire and dispose of sites across all sectors.

In his role at Rapleys, Michael advises clients on both the disposal and acquisition of retail and leisure property. He currently acts for Majestic Wine, PureGym, Primark, Waitrose and Lidl.

As published in Forecourt Trader in the January/February Property Feature


Property experts say the appetite for forecourts remains strong, with some reporting an average of five offers per transaction.

Mark Frostick, Senior Associate, Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team explains “Circumstances created strong margins for many sites and with shop sales also remaining at good levels, we saw fewer sites on the market, especially at the lower end of the trading spectrum.”

Read the article in full here.

Like 2020, 2021 was dominated by Covid, and again like 2020, the fuel retail market remained resilient. 

Fuel crisis

At least this was the case until the end of September which saw the so called “Fuel Crisis” dominate media headlines. The media reported on potential fuel shortages which sparked panic buying and vast queues at petrol stations throughout the country. News reports showed people filling up containers from milk bottles to fuel cans, and one report we heard was someone spending 1 hour in a queue to top up their car with just 97p worth of fuel!

As a result, fuel deliveries could not keep up with demand and some forecourts sat empty – some for weeks until supplies became readily available, and the market returned to normal by early October. Whilst the general public was panic buying fuel at petrol filling stations, there was another issue affecting property markets – a shortage of available petrol station sites. Margins have remained high and despite upwards pressure on values and uncertainty surrounding the switch to Electric Vehicles (EV) this has not yet been enough to convince the market to exit the industry or dispose of underperforming sites.

Big movers

In February Certas acquired seven sites from Bishop Retail in the north east, but the biggest deal to note was the 27 sites sold by Euro Garages to Park Garage Group in June. This disposal was a requirement from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as part of their purchase of Asda.

Elsewhere Applegreen/Petrogas placed approximately 100 of their petrol filling stations on the market in order to concentrate on their MSA business, Welcome Break. To date, no purchases have been announced and the sites remain available.

Market insights

The Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team have experienced significant activity on individual sites, but a lack of availability has meant that any site brought to market has seen very competitive bidding, pushing prices on considerably. For example, the Automotive & Roadside team have recently agreed terms on a site at 19% over the asking price which was based on the upper range of values for other sites sold over the last 18 months. There have been some suggestions that the uptake of EV’s would bring more sites to the market but that is yet to be seen and we suspect this is likely to increase in number in the medium term. We expect the number of charging points will continue to significantly increase over the coming years in preparation for 2030 net zero carbon pledge.

Electric vehicles

2021 has seen a significant increase in EV sales, the SMMT reported circa 1.6 million new cars were sold, a slight increase on 2020. The total number of hybrid/electric vehicles sold circa 750,000 vehicles was equivalent to the previous 4 years combined – the Tesla Model 3 was the second biggest selling model of the year in 2020.

As the number of electric vehicles on the road has increased, we have seen more interest from the existing fuel market industry. Shell have just opened their first electric-only charging site in Fulham on the site of an old petrol station, and BP have announced that they intend to have 16,000 charging points in place by 2030.

Zap Map (used by consumers to locate electric charging points) reports there are now 28,922 electric charging devices in the UK which equates to approximately 1 charging point for every 37 electric or hybrid vehicles in the UK.



In summary, 2021 was another interesting year for the petrol station market, which again proved a high level of resilience against Covid given the exemption from national restrictions and it is clear to see that the industry continues to look towards electric charging as the future.

Rapleys is embedded in the automotive and roadside industry and through its 70-year history has successfully evolved in line with market developments to provide the best advice and service to our clients. We will continue to do so as the industry adapts to this new period of change and look forward to helping our clients thrive in the ‘new normal’ for fuel retail.

For advice across the full spectrum of developing, upgrading, buying and selling forecourts or rent reviews and lease renewals, contact Mark Frostick, Senior Associate or a member of our nationwide Automotive & Roadside team.

As published in Property Week on 27 January


Leasing activity in the trade counter sector soared in 2021. Two of the biggest operators – Toolstation and Screwfix – opened nearly 150 new branches between them.

It is hard to overstate the rapid rate at which industrial/trade counter rents have grown. Some experts argue that such growth is unsustainable. “Rising rents are becoming more of a concern for occupiers,” says Daniel Cook, Partner and head of automotive and roadside at Rapleys.

Read the article in full here.

As published in Automotive World on 30 December


In March 2020, the automotive industry watched the Prime Minister announce what turned out to be the first lockdown with a sense of dread due to the unknown.

A wide variety of predictions were made, ranging from wholesale doom to a slightly less drastic partial economic recovery for the following year. In June when the first lockdown ended the Society of Motor, Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) predicted a loss of one in six automotive jobs in the UK and many dealer groups and manufacturers were looking to the near-term future with real concern.

Mark Frostick, Senior Associate at Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team explores how this has impacted the automotive market, from increased demand in secondhand vehicles to the increased cost of building materials.

Read the article in full here.

As published in The Grocer on 26 November


Bold plans are the online giant’s MO, but Amazon’s newly formed team faces a raft of logistical challenges to meet its target for the UK.

Richard Curry, foodstore specialist advisor and Partner at Rapleys comments “People that own property here just don’t like the way [Amazon] lease,” says Richard Curry, partner at Rapleys. US companies often take a “why don’t you do it our way?” attitude, he adds, and with Amazon “you have to sign all sorts of NDAs just to know it’s them, which seems a bit excessive”.

Furthermore, “there will be an air of scepticism about their performance until they’ve opened a few more” Curry says.

Read the article in full here.

As published in Forecourt Trader on 08 November


On paper, the rising number of EV charging points – recently revealed by the Department for Transport (DfT) – sounds great, but the reality is there is still some way to go.

Mark Frostick, Senior Associate in the Automotive & Roadside team responds to recent Department for Transport figures showing the increase in EV chargers.

Read the article in full here.

Oliver Graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2019 before joining Rapleys the following September as a graduate surveyor in the Automotive and Roadside sector.

Previously, Oliver worked at Henry Boots Developments in Sheffield as an Assistant Development Surveyor during a placement year.

Oliver will also be undertaking the APC process.

Marcus joined Rapleys in August 2019 as a surveyor in the Corporate & Investor Management department.

Prior to Rapleys, Marcus worked for NHS Property Services in the Asset Management department, managing a portfolio of health centres and surgeries in northwest London. Alongside handling day to day management issues, Marcus also was involved in development projects and leasing initiatives geared to optimising the substantial NHS Property portfolio.  Marcus’ career started at Savills, where he worked in the Capital Allowances team providing tax advice on a range of property asset classes to high net worth individuals and institutional investors such as Legal & General.

As a result of dealing with a variety of property across the UK, Marcus has established good contacts with occupiers and landlords and his highly forensic approach will help  clients unlock maximum benefit from their portfolio.

As published in CoStar on the 08 July

As published in AM Online on the 09 July

As published in Forecourt Trader on the 09 July

As published in EG on the 15 July


Rapleys have appointed Daniel Cook as the Head of the Automotive & Roadside team.

Cook has been with the firm for 16 years and provides clients both agency and professional advice including on acquisitions, disposals, rent reviews, lease renewals other landlord and tenant matters and valuations.

Cook takes over the role from Phil Blackford who, after 37 years of service, will be retiring from the partnership.


Will joined Rapleys in 2018 as a partner in the Affordable Housing/Viability team. He joined from GL Hearn where he worked for over 8 years in the Affordable Housing and Viability team.

Will specialises in providing development valuation advice for residential and mixed-use sites, with a particular emphasis on the valuation of affordable housing and development viability. He has provided valuation advice to many large developing Registered Providers including Clarion, L&Q, TVHA and Home Group.

He also acts on behalf of private developers in connection with viability negotiations with local authorities in order to assess the appropriate level of affordable housing. Following completion of s.106 agreements, Will acts in an agency role for developers to secure a Registered Provider. He also provides agency advice to Registered Providers for acquisition purposes.

Will is able to offer clients strategic valuation advice in connection with the redevelopment of their sites, including appropriate affordable housing strategies in order to maximise both land and resale values.


Looking back at our 2020 predictions, we could not have foreseen Covid-19 and the impact it has had. The petrol station market has not been immune to the impact experienced by businesses right across the global economy.

Fuel retail in lockdown

Whilst high street retail, was heavily hit with many stores closed (there was an estimated net loss of more almost 10,000 high street chain stores in 2020), petrol stations were understandably deemed essential and continued to trade, and the first and subsequent lockdowns had a relatively limited impact on the values and profitability of forecourts.

With fewer vehicles on the road the demand for fuel in the early part of 2020 fell dramatically, with sales in the first seven weeks of the first lockdown being just 39% (Department of Business Energy and Industrial strategy) of the “normal” levels of the eight weeks prior to March 23. Most operators were able to maintain margins as the global price of crude oil fell and that, coupled with an increase in convenience sales, meant that profits were maintained or in some cases improved. Some of the larger operators requested and received rental reductions backed up by the Government restrictions on landlords being unable to evict tenants during lockdown.

Generally, Rapleys did not see any major reduction in forecourt values, nor did we see operators looking to use Covid-19 as an excuse to renegotiate the purchase price down. Indeed, following the initial lifting of lockdown in the summer of 2020 we saw a significant surge in interest in deal-making in line with resurgent fuel sales.

There were challenges, however. One forecourt owner decided to refurbish a petrol station shop just before the first lockdown and was consequently unable to complete the works until after the country re-opened. The lockdown also caused a slow-down in forecourt transactions, with some parties preferring to wait until the country was out of lockdown to complete and furlough causing teams to be stretched meaning delays were inevitable.

The wider landscape

Whilst individual forecourts continued to trade through 2020, October brought two big announcements outside of the pandemic.

Firstly, BP undertook a sale and leaseback of 199 of their forecourts – generating nearly £400m to invest back into the company. Secondly, was the announcement that EG Group had sealed a deal to purchase Asda – adding a further 325 forecourts and over 2.8 billion litres to its market share. Later in the year we also heard that MFG acquired six forecourts from AUK Investments and Applegreen/Petrogas went private; proving that the ‘super indies’ are going to continue to be a dominant force in the UK market.

Covid-19 was undoubtedly the biggest issue operators faced in 2020, but arguably the most notable event which will shape for the future of the industry happened in November 2020.

The Government moved the date forward (again) for all new UK vehicles to be non-fossil fuel by 2030, from the previously announced date of 2035. Consequently, a Government White Paper is due out later this year which will provide further clarity on how electrical vehicles will be promoted. As we wrote for Forecourt Trader, for the fuel retail industry the EV revolution will bring significant opportunities, and challenges, with operators having to balance on the one hand the economic reality of EV drivers currently being a vanishingly small market to sell to and, on the other, choosing the right moment to make the almost inevitable investments needed to incorporate charging infrastructure. We will almost certainly see further disruption in the marketplace ahead of 2030.

In summary, the industry survived the various difficulties that 2020 brought but as we come out of hopefully a final lockdown, 2021 will of course bring its own hurdles for the market to go through.

Rapleys is embedded in the automotive and roadside industry and through its 70-year history has successfully evolved in line with market developments to provide the best advice and service to our clients. We will continue to do so as the industry adapts to this new period of change and look forward to helping our clients thrive in the ‘new normal’ for fuel retail.

For advice across the full spectrum of developing, upgrading, buying and selling forecourts or rent reviews and lease renewals, contact Mark Frostick, Senior Associate or a member of our nationwide Automotive & Roadside team.

As published in Property Week on the 29 April


Major changes are afoot, as part of the UK Government’s strategy to hit zero carbon by 2050 and not sell vehicles powered wholly by petrol or diesel in the UK by 2030.

Mark Frostick, Senior Associate at Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team discusses the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the owners and operators of roadside assets.

“It is not as easy as just swapping the petrol pumps for electric charging points. The process can be costly and not every forecourt is designed for such a transition, especially smaller outlets with less space to fit in chargers.”

Read the article in full here.

Peter works within the Automotive & Roadside team and is located in the Manchester office. Peter specialises in professional matters including rent reviews, lease renewals, valuations and general landlord and tenant matters.

Peter provides a range of advice to both investor and occupier clients, primarily covering the north of England in respect of roadside properties, which includes petrol filling stations, motor dealerships and motorist’s centres.

Peter joined Rapleys in 2018, qualifying as a member of the Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors in 2020 and is a RICS Registered Valuer.

As published in The Business Desk on the 12 April


Nikal has secured a 15-year lease with The Co-operative Group for a 4,000 sq ft convenience store at its Exchange Square development in Birmingham 

Alfred Bartlett, Head of Retail & Leisure at Rapleys acted for Nikal in securing The Co-operative Group in their mixed use development scheme.

“We felt it was the right first step in satisfying local demand and fits perfectly with the next phase of lettings, currently in solicitors’ hands, that will contribute to the creation of a fresh and vibrant new lifestyle destination.”

Read the article in full here.

As published in The Grocer on the 15 March


Space has opened up in out-of-town retail parks – and shoppers feel more comfortable there. So food retailers are moving in. But will the trend last?

In recent years, out-of-town retail has been in a sorry state, but then came the pandemic and a new lease of life for retail parks.

The perfect size for a supermarket has changed, Richard Curry, Partner and lead food store advisor at Rapleys discusses the optimal store size and how discounter stores are taking advantage of available space.

Read the article in full here.

As published in The Grocer on the 11 March


The pandemic has accelerated the high street’s decline. Is government support the answer, or does the concept need a wholesale rethink?

Following the dramatic decline of the high street, Alfred Bartlett, Head of Retail & Leisure at Rapleys share his views on how we can stimulate the recovery of our high streets.

“I believe incentives should be given to developers to invest in the regeneration, or rather resurgence, of town centres.” He argues those incentives could also extend to startup retailers “in certain key sectors” to give them the confidence to set up stall in town centres.

Read the article in full here.

As published in Forecourt Trader on the 1 March.


As Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s pandemic Budget edges closer (March 3) there is considerable debate over how the government will proceed with its mantra to ‘build back better and greener’.

Daniel Cook and Mark Frostick from Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team speculate the Government’s 2030 green ambition for electrical vehicles.

Currently, electrical vehicles represent 1% of Uk vehicles. In order to meet the expected demand for electrical charging points, there will need to be increased infrastructure and commercial strategy by forecourt operators.

Read the article in full here.

Richard is a partner in Rapleys’ town planning team. He has extensive commercial and residential sector knowledge and experience, gained within a variety of both public, private and client side roles.

Richard has worked with a wide range of national clients, particularly in the convenience retail sector where he is currently managing the Lidl portfolio.  He has successfully obtained planning permission on appeal and embarked on a number of informal hearings resulting in a successful outcome. Richard’s extensive experience and interest in S106 negotiations, viability, CIL and planning policy give him a complete understanding of the best way to secure planning permission.

Richard has expertise in securing planning permission for major complex planning applications and high profile schemes. He specialises in guiding and developing tough planning strategies for schemes often requiring significant community and public engagement.

Richard is highly focused, fostering a good work ethic to motivate his team towards the successful execution of shared objectives and engaging with the local community to address planning issues.

At the start of 2021 the number of electric cars registered in the UK soared to almost half a million (435,000). With a record 175,000 (approx.) new electric vehicles registered in 2020, a 66% rise on 2019, along with the UK policy to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 as part of its 2050 carbon neutrality target, forecourt operators are looking to understand what their future will be in this changing environment.

According to calculations by property and planning consultancy Rapleys, while significant change is on the horizon forecourts are facing an immediate economic headache over whether to invest in charging points, with further government action likely needed to ensure the roll out of EVs is successful, sustainable and builds on the infrastructure capacity and expertise offered by existing forecourts.

Daniel Cook, Partner in the Automotive and Roadside team at Rapleys, said:

“There are an estimated 13,347 charging locations currently across the UK. This compares favourably to around 8,500 filling stations. However, the majority of these charging locations are relatively small scale, with an average of three connectors per location. Currently, only around 25% of EV charging connectors are rapid or ultra-rapid. In order to provide scale in the market, the direction of travel must be for filling stations to increasingly incorporate or convert to electric charging. But there are a number of challenges to doing so quickly, not least the current time required for charging.

“Even rapid charging typically takes 30 minutes. With that added time spent on site, forecourts will need to be able to have the space to cater for larger volumes of traffic and new offerings to support dwell time, or they will have to raise the price of charging to make the economics work. This reality may mean increased consolidation in the forecourt sector as electric vehicles become more prevalent. Those with larger amounts of capacity and additional retail and leisure offerings, such as the big supermarkets and larger motorway service stations, may hold an advantage in the charging market. Those with large car parks, for example, may in the future be able to easily incorporate wireless EV charging on a pad in a parking space.

“Of course all of this ignores the fact that many owners of electric vehicles will charge their cars at home. It remains to be seen therefore what the overall impact will be in, say, 30 years’ time in terms of total number of filling / charging points but it is quite feasible that this overall number will continue to increase in the short to medium term, plateau and then decline with the switch from hydrocarbons. Owners of filling stations will unquestionably need to think about the longer term future of their sites and possible alternative uses.”


Mark Frostick, Senior Associate in the Automotive and Roadside team at Rapleys, added:

“The issue is scale, feasibility and convenience, and in many ways the market is in a chicken and egg situation. On the one hand, while the UK has a clear ambition to support electrification until there is mass take up of electric vehicles, the rationale for forecourts to invest in charging points is limited. To take one analogy, a forecourt operator converting to cater only for electric vehicles would have a smaller market than one deciding to sell petrol or diesel only to Toyota Yaris drivers![1] Indeed, it would be broadly equivalent to selling only to owners of Fords, BMWs or VWs registered in 2020![2] On the other hand until it’s as quick, easy and accessible to charge a car as it is to fill it with diesel or petrol the public are unlikely to take the plunge en masse, with many still concerned about the issue of range.

“Those forecourts looking to incorporate charging at scale may, for example, face significant costs and property challenges – for example the installation of an electricity substation can cost upwards of £100k and possibly require landlord consents.

[1] 509,839 Toyota Yaris on the road in 2019

[2] UK car registrations 2020: Ford (152777), BMW (115476), VW (148338)

“Clearly, without additional incentivisation penetration of electric vehicles into a market which now has more than 40m vehicles on the road is likely to be slow – they currently represent around 1%. Government has used the stick with the 2030 fossil fuel ban, it may now be time for the carrot.”

Nick joined Rapleys in early 2015 as a partner in the special projects & development team after ten years at Strettons Chartered Surveyors, where he was responsible for the development consultancy team from 2012 onwards.

Nick specialises in providing detailed development valuation advice for residential and mixed-use sites, with a particular emphasis on the valuation of affordable housing and development viability. He has provided advice to developers in both the public and private sectors and was previously on the valuation panel for the majority of the G15 Housing Associations within Greater London.

In his former role, Nick was jointly responsible for successfully tendering to provide detailed valuation advice to Triathlon Homes in relation to the phased release of their 704 affordable rent, shared ownership and shared equity units within East Village (former Olympic Athlete’s Village). He has also provided detailed valuation advice on other major residential led regeneration schemes in London, a number of which have been for developments in excess of 500 homes.

He has acted on behalf of private developers in connection with viability negotiations with local authorities in order to assess the appropriate level of affordable housing. Following completion of s.106 agreements, he has acted on behalf of both private developers and Registered Providers in connection with the valuation, acquisition and disposal of ‘Package Price’ s.106 affordable housing contributions.

He has acted on behalf of land owners and developers in the acquisition and sale of development sites within London & the Home Counties.

Nick is able to offer clients strategic valuation advice in connection with the redevelopment of their sites, including appropriate affordable housing strategies in order to maximise both land and resale values.


As published in Forecourt Trader on 14 September.


 A seven-fold increase in demand for petrol filling stations occurred in the first month following the easing of the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, according to Rapleys, the property and planning consultancy. 

Rapleys’ Automotive and Roadside team, who manage the property needs of fuel retail operators of all sizes across the UK, received seven times as many enquiries in in the month of July, following the easing of lockdown restrictions, as they did in April during the height of the lockdown.

To read the article in full please click here.

Mark joined Rapley’s automotive and roadside team in 2003 and has wide experience within the sector. He has advised on over 1000 petrol stations for clients ranging from major oil companies to sole traders. His dealership experience is just as varied having acquired and disposed of sites throughout the UK.

Following his graduation from Nottingham Trent University, Mark spent 6 months working in the professional department of King Sturge’s Bath office. He also gained experience working for Colyer Commercial, a small regional practice located in Ashford, Kent, and in Barbers’ commercial department in Telford.

Jamie joined Rapleys’ development consultancy team in April 2016 as a graduate surveyor from Oxford Brookes University where he studied Planning and Property Development. He now sits in the affordable housing & viability team in the London office where he assists landowners, developers and housing associations.

Jamie provides development valuation advice for residential, mixed use and ‘build to rent’ schemes on both small scale developments and larger urban extensions. His work is generally focused in the south east of England but he has worked on sites in Newcastle and York. Jamie works on detailed development appraisals to assess scheme viability and deliverability while providing affordable housing strategy advice. He also provides agency advice in relation to disposal of development sites and S106 ‘package deals’. Jamie’s client base consists of a range of landowners, residential developers and housing associations.

Jamie became accredited into the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in November 2019, and his interests outside of work include cricket, rugby and exploring the highlands of Scotland.


Daniel is Head of Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team specialising in both agency and professional matters including acquisitions, disposals, rent reviews, lease renewals, general landlord and tenant work, and valuations on properties throughout the UK. His particular specialism is within petrol filling stations, motor dealerships, roadside retail and workshop premises. He is also a RICS Registered Valuer, RICS APC Assessor and a RICS Fellow.

Daniel advises a variety of institutional and occupier clients including Pendragon plc, Mercedes-Benz Retail Group, Sytner Group, Network Rail, Columbia Threadneedle, Majestic Wine, Topps Tiles and Universal Tyres.

Daniel previously worked at Mouchel on the Bedfordshire County Council portfolio including general agency and landlord and tenant matters, and prior to graduating in 2003, Daniel completed his placement year at Bidwells, working with the agency and corporate consultancy/valuation departments.


As published in Property Week on 30 April 2020.

Roadside retail was in the fast lane before Covid-19 struck. UK petrol forecourt property value grew by 3% in 2019, its eighth consecutive year of growth, according to the Barber Wadlow/Experian Catalist Forecourt Property Index. This is being driven by growing profits, which were also up 3% in 2019.

Customer Flow

Pay at pump terminals are also key to improving vehicle circulation and ensuring customer flow is not stifled by the growing range of goods and services on offer. So too is ‘pay and spray’ contactless technology, allowing motorists to pay for jet washing their cars without needing to queue in store. Many operators are installing banks of up to five jet washes on mostly residential sites because of the boost to profits they can deliver.

It may come as a surprise that services like this, along with offerings such as coffee and food to go, are playing a greater role in the growing size of forecourt sites than technology that’s expected to eventually revolutionise the way world gets from A to B: electric vehicles (EV).

“We’re in a chicken-and-egg situation regarding the provision of reliable charging points nationwide which address consumer anxieties around range versus the inevitable explosion in electric cars with bigger batteries,” says Phil Blackford, head of automotive & roadside at property and planning consultancy Rapleys.

Indeed, just 0.5% of the UK’s licensed cars were ultra-low emission vehicles such as pure electric or plug-in electric/petrol or diesel hybrids in 2018, according to Department for Transport figures.

Yet by 2030 this is expected to have grown to between 7% and 27% and to between 49% and 89% by 2040, predicts the National Grid. One reason for the gap between the highest and lowest expectations for EV take up is the scale of the barriers that need to be overcome.

To read the article in full please click here.

Richard is a partner in Rapleys’ retail and leisure group.

He has over 30 years’ experience dealing with all aspects of agency and has dealt with high street, development and investment management. He specialises in the food store sector, especially in the acquisition of convenience stores and supermarkets. He also regularly advises on the sale of trading stores.

Richard regularly contributes market insight to leading industry publications.

Richard is principal agent advising New River Retail on the asset management of their public house estate.

Richard joined Rapleys in 2006, having previously spent 3 years at Somerfield Stores, where he was property manager responsible for subletting, downsizes and disposals.


Yesterday’s Budget announcement contained a clear message of business continuity as the Chancellor relayed emergency measures to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus. Public health, the NHS, SMEs and workers were the primary focus, but for the property industry, there were still some takeaway messages. Not least, an announcement of short term emergency Business Rates relief, as well as a programme of investment launched for roads and infrastructure. Key members of our service teams add their comments.

Retail & Leisure Group

Russell Smith, Partner, comments; ‘overall there was some welcome, positive news for the high street, in particular for small shop and restaurant owners who will see an increased business rates discount. It is a temporary and extreme step sadly in light of the destabilising Coronavirus pandemic, but nonetheless it is well needed and overdue for the ailing retail sector.

The announcement to hold a review into the long term future of business rates should make a marked change to the future of the high street. This will need to be implemented in a timely manner however as there is likely to be a further reduction in footfall in high street across the country in the months to come.’

Alfred Bartlett, Partner, adds ‘ironically, the digital service tax (2% tax introduction on digital businesses) will also help bricks and mortar retail and may prove a good first step in balancing the investment in trading formats and redressing the high street decline.’

Automotive & Roadside

Phil Blackford comments; ‘the Government have announced a fund of £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles ensuring that drivers will never be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station. That is very welcome news to both manufacturers and EV charge suppliers and hopefully will provide the much needed kick start to creating the necessary infrastructure in the UK to align Government targets, manufacturer’s development and production and a structured network of EV charging stations.’

Town Planning

Jason Lowes, comments; ‘in terms of planning, most of the announcements in the Budget were primarily financial commitments, with the Government’s planning reform initiatives saved for today’s announcement by Robert Jenrick. These indicate that a planning white paper will be released in the spring, addressing a wide range of matters, including:

  • Introducing a “zonal” element to the planning system
  • Further measures to encourage development on brownfield land
  • Initiatives to speed up the planning system

By way of background to the above, the Government feels that the planning system is holding back the delivery of housing, and that these initiatives will break down barriers. However, they are all at a very early stage, and we will be looking very closely on how they develop. Nevertheless, any initiatives that render the planning system more predictable and straightforward to navigate will no doubt be welcomed by the industry. Rapleys Town Planning team will be releasing a fuller newsletter on these reforms shortly.’


Rapleys’ Town Planning and Retail & Leisure Group work closely with Lidl’s national acquisition department and are delighted to share some of our latest acquisitions for the discount grocer as they reach a pivotal milestone in Great Britain and open their 800th store.

Rapleys work in partnership with Lidl on a spectrum of services, from initial planning appraisals, scoping reports, property acquisition and public consultation. See below for highlights of some of the deals or speak to the team for more information.

Lidl acquisition Altrincham Lidl acquisition Cambridge Lidl Swindon acquistion Lidl Manchester picadilly

Featured properties include Altrincham Retail Park, Cambridge Retail Park, Swindon Orbital Retail Park and Manchester Piccadilly Gardens.

Further details are available here or via the download button.

In February the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) called for Britain’s biggest supermarket chains to review thousands of land agreements and prove they are lawful. This came to light after the CMA openly wrote to Tesco Chief Executive calling the retailer out on unlawfully preventing landlords from letting properties to its rivals at 23 sites across the UK.

We asked Richard Curry, our food retail expert, for his opinion, specifically asking how permeated is this practice in the industry and do you predict more agreements of this nature will be uncovered? He commented:

The CMA’s ruling will come as no surprise to anyone who has observed the food retail market over the years, as restriction covenants have been a known feature of supermarkets’ strategies for decades.

In the period prior to the rise of discounters and ecommerce, when the race for space still dominated the food retail sector, supermarket operators would often purchase an old industrial site, occupy one of the smaller lots, with a view to establishing a larger-format store in one of the other lots once trading had increased. Restrictive covenants were a crucial part of this strategy. In order to prevent loss of trade to competitors in the meantime, they would sell the other lots with a restriction of use clause, ensuring the subsequent owners could not sell on to another food retailer.

Even when the race for space ended, the covenants continued to protect retailers from loss of trade to competitors and were waiting patiently for another bullish market when rollout of larger stores was back on the agenda.

Restrictive covenants do have their uses – if a food retailer takes a gamble by investing in a new location, such as within a new urban extension or trading estate, they should be able to benefit from their initial financial commitment to an unestablished trading location without competitors coming along and building next door as soon as trade increases.

However, most convenience stores should be up to maturity within five years so they should not need protection further than that. It may even be the case that a food retail store enjoying an unrivalled position on a retail park by for over five years by virtue of a covenant, could have been overtrading, as their levels of traffic were being artificially raised by covenants now deemed unlawful.

In 2010 the CMA limited the length of restrictive covenants to 5 years, after which food retailers must allow competitors to occupy nearby locations. The fact that the CMA claims 20 different agreements by Tesco violated this rule could be seen as evidence of the high-risk strategy the retailer has taken when choosing new locations.

Another point to consider is that the terms of restrictive clauses only prevent nearby spaces being occupied by major competitors, which essentially comprises the other members of the big four food retailers. Up-market food stores such as Waitrose or M&S, and more significantly the discount food retailers such as Aldi or Lidl, were permitted to establish, with the latter taking full advantage. Restrictive covenants may therefore have been one of the factors contributing to the dramatic expansion of discount food retailers in recent years.

The smart money would say that this ruling will not necessarily result in any significant increase in the number of store openings in the retail sector, as this is tied to many other factors, not least the general health of the sector and its main actors, some of which are actively downsizing. However, if the market picks up, and space once again becomes a priority, this ruling could open-up new opportunities for expansion.

It has not generally been possible to assess just how significant an impact restrictive covenants have had on the marketability of key retail sites. That is until now. With the release of these spaces from extended covenants, their performance on the market should indicate just how much of a lead weight these kinds of clauses have been.

Further expert commentary alongside Richard’s can be found in this article from Property Week, published on 28 February 2020.

Godwin Developments have purchased a former Pizza Hut site on Baths Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, close to the town centre.

Jonathan Jones, Retail & Leisure surveyor here at Rapleys said: ‘I am delighted to have identified and acquired this prominent site on behalf of Godwin which has clear potential for drive-thru /quick service restaurants uses. Early conversations have indicated there is strong demand for out of town location and as such I am looking forward to promoting the site when it goes live!’

Stuart Pratt, group development director at Godwin, said ‘I am pleased with the speed in which we have completed this site purchase.’

The full press release from Godwin Group can also be viewed at Insider Media Limited and Commercial News.


Last year saw strong margins on fuel sales and the continuation of acquisitions among some of the smaller groups by the larger independents. However, as per the last few years there has been a relative lack of stock and it has remained a seller’s market.

Whilst the Brexit uncertainty may be a little less we haven’t, and are unlikely to, see a significant change in the levels of demand for sites in 2020. However, with some of the oil companies that have previously exited the direct retailing market returning, as well as TOTAL re-emerging as a brand in the UK, we expect demand for good quality sites to remain. Likewise, we expect continued demand for new to industry sites from the oil companies and the independents. At this pace, 2020 could see a net addition of sites over the course of the year.

Market Share

Graph of the petrol station market share

Whilst the independents make up more than 50% of the market(*) it’s interesting to see that oil companies appear to be moving back to operating sites themselves. Harvest took over HKS last year, Gulf have been opening new sites and Jet have acquired a number of existing forecourts. With the bigger oil companies also likely to follow, competition remains strong for opportunities.

On existing portfolios we also expect to see some more refurbishments/redevelopments to enhance sales. This will be both with some clever use of the existing property and some complete redevelopment. There are sure to be some more groups selling out but there are relatively few left that won’t have already considered the option in some detail.

2020 is likely to see electric vehicles continue to dominate the news but perhaps less so on the forecourts themselves. At present there has been some limited uptake, but unless a forecourt has sufficient space to accommodate long term parking and sufficient demand to make it worthwhile, this position is unlikely to change significantly. Where we are likely to see it happen more is on new to industry sites (notably, there were 54 in 2019). With councils being extremely keen on environmental and green issues, we expect new builds to require some level of electrical charging as part of any planning consent.

This is not to say electric is not making a difference, there is strong demand from operators and we are expecting some stand alone electric charging petrol stations this year, along with the continued rollout of charging points across the UK. Forecourt operators will need to consider this if they lose traffic and therefore custom to other locations but this is a part of the industry that is certainly here to stay.

With Ikea revealing plans to close its Coventry store in the summer, its first big closure in the UK, Russell Smith reflects on the current state of the retail market and how property strategies need to adapt in line with evolving consumer demands.

The retail market is undergoing fundamental disruption and Ikea’s Coventry store is, sadly, just the latest casualty. It probably won’t be the last, as retailers and landlords seek to rebalance their strategies and property portfolios in line with changing shopping patterns.

Larger format stores are being scrutinised closely, and we’re seeing real efforts made to try and subdivide space to ensure that every square foot is maximised – importantly that’s just not about range of product, it’s about diversity of experience and generating footfall and dwell time. Ikea aren’t alone, the same is true of the big department and DIY stores – some of which have had to go down the route of a CVA are even administration – who are rationalising their property portfolios in response to poor sales.

Retailers have learned, the hard way in some cases, that bigger is not always better when it comes to store format. Many large store concepts really struggle with design, accessibility and connectivity with the wider location and footfall. Ikea Coventry demonstrates not just the need to respond to the change in customer profile, but also the need for quality design thinking to make the most of location and footprint.

Ikea’s setback in Coventry is as much to do with location as anything else, but the retailer has made some strides overall. In Ikea’s case, the core product is flat pack furniture and, in reality, people either want to buy it online and have it delivered, or they want to go – or have to go – to an out of town fulfilment centre to collect in a car or van. Formats and locations that fall between these two poles are the ones that are going to be at risk. Ikea are therefore looking at smaller showroom format stores in affluent locations and with high footfall – such as Bromley or Hammersmith – or larger stores close to motorways or in accessible out of town sites.

Put simply, retailers have to understand that the way consumers want to buy their products has changed, and property decisions need to be made firmly in that context.


Ken Brown Motor Group have opened a new Hyundai dealership in Letchworth Garden City.  The deal involved a new 10 year lease on the 0.78 acre site in Icknield Way, with the previous tenant surrendering an existing lease and withdrawing from the town.  Rapleys Automotive and Roadside team brokered the deal on behalf of the landlord, Fevore Limited.

Richard Forman of Fevore said: ‘We are delighted that Rapleys were able to secure continuing long term occupation of the property in a tricky market and without a rental void. The deal really was a ‘win win win’ allowing Progress to exit and Ken Brown to step in while also enhancing our asset’.

Geoff Sayer, partner at Rapleys said: ‘This demonstrates that opportunities exist in the current market for brands to invest in new and affluent territories’.

Jon Taylor, Managing Director of KBMG, said: ‘We are delighted to have this opportunity to expand with Hyundai and look forward to growing our business in Letchworth and beyond with this exciting new brand for the town’.

As featured in Automotive Management Online on 16 January 2020.

“Petrol filling stations are still the ‘darlings’ of the property market with strong demand and therefore values on the up.”

Forecourt Trader speaks to industry experts, including our own Mark Frostick.

Mark Frostick, senior associate in the automotive and roadside team at Rapleys, comments, ‘in 2019 we saw some dealer group takeovers, but less of the really big deals that characterised the last few years. While most of the eye-catching mergers and acquisitions have probably happened, we expect to see some continued consolidation in the sector as the market rationalises in what is a highly competitive and challenging consumer market. At the same time, some of the larger independents have continued to expand overseas at least in part, perhaps, as a hedge against any negative impact Brexit might have in the future on the UK market.’

Frostick says the real challenge continues to be a lack of stock in the market. ‘The difficulties in unlocking new sites vary from location to location for example, a trunk road site in a rural area may have the highest potential value but can face complexities when it comes to planning. Meanwhile, urban sites can face more competition from a variety of alternative uses both residential and commercial with drive-thru restaurants likely to be the biggest competitor.

Forecourt site values have continued to hold up particularly due to the lack of stock and competition for sites and the market is interested in good performing sites at every level. Freehold demand is stronger than leasehold, but we continue to see issues, particularly at the lower level, where deals have failed to get over the line in an appropriate timescale as parties have struggled to keep up the pace and momentum to complete. With competition for sites high, it is paramount that operators are equipped to move swiftly and those who use professional advisers and solicitors with petrol station experience will always be better placed. At least partly as a consequence of limited property stock, we have seen operators looking at innovative ways to improve existing sites and fully utilise what space they have, for example by expanding upwards to create a multi-storey forecourt retail offering.

As for electric vehicles, Frostick says that while there continues to be much discussion about the long-term impact of electric vehicle infrastructure on the forecourt industry this is yet to fully translate into notable and widespread innovation on site. According to a recent government announcement, there are now more charging points than petrol stations but, for the most part, operators so far have been simply squeezing in charging points on existing sites where they can. “With the government now publishing league tables on electric infrastructure though and making new funding available for Local Authorities we may see the landscape begin to change, particularly as and when electric vehicles become more affordable and ubiquitous.’

The full article is available in print only from Forecourt Trader (01/01/2020).


The food WAREHOUSE is one of the fastest growing retail park outlets. But can it take on Aldi and Lidl? Property Week reports. 

food WAREHOUSE, from Iceland, focuses on bulk buys, value packs and pallet deals that showcase Iceland’s latest products. ‘We didn’t know if it would just be an innovative lab for the core Iceland stores where we could try ideas and products and ways of working, but very quickly it became apparent that this was a great, separate business model in its own right’ recalls Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland.

After just five years, food WAREHOUSE has 118 UK stores and, despite no firm targets being set, Walker is confident they will continue the current rate of 30 to 35 openings a year. With them offering an attractive covenant to landlords this seems achievable. The food WAREHOUSE provides a solution for a retail park site that might otherwise be sitting empty, according to Richard Curry, partner in Rapleys’ retail and leisure team. ‘They have taken the opportunity to take sites that other [food retailers] wouldn’t possibly consider and have become the focal point for those sites’ he says.

Curry adds ‘the brand has also benefited from the inflexibility of discount rivals Aldi and Lidl when it comes to store expansion, which need to have exactly what they are looking for or they just won’t do it’. However, it looks as though that is changing as their search parameters widen and food WAREHOUSE poses more of a threat. This isn’t seen as too much of a challenge by Walker however who states, in today’s market ‘everyone is a competitor’.



For the full story head to Property Week – click here.

Rapleys’ property and planning consultancy continues to show the ongoing growth of its business by announcing this week that the Cambridge team will relocate to larger premises, and therefore increase their profile, just nine months after opening in the city.

Remaining in the CB1 business district was of upmost importance to Rapleys and its new and existing client base. The practice has taken a private office at 50-60 Station Road; a modern, high quality environment, next to the station.

The new office will house, amongst other teams, the practices’ Town Planning, Development, Building Consultancy, Business Space and Automotive & Roadside departments.

Stuart Harris, Head of Cambridge Office comments: “Whilst Rapleys’ arrival in Cambridge was far from any ‘cold start’ with our long standing presence in the county, we have been delighted by the traction gained in our opening months in the city. This has necessitated a fairly rapid expansion of both the size and quality of space available to us.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner, adds: “I am very pleased with the new office at Station Road and look forward to welcoming our clients to the innovative space. Our move is a direct response to client needs. We are excited by the future prospects in Cambridge and the wider region.”

Full contact details for the Rapleys Cambridge office:

50/60 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2FB
0370 777 6292 |  info@rapleys.com

Featured in Commercial News.


Third-party logistics operators (3PLs) are gobbling up warehouse space like there’s no tomorrow. They account for 35% of all spaces transacted in 2019 – massively up on the more typical 19% share they have had in recent years, according to Savills.

Online retail has been growing steadily and now accounts for close to 20% of the overall retail market…it is difficult for retailers to stay on top of everything and to be periodically investing in this software or that racking system, agrees Colin Steele, partner and head of business space at property and planning consultancy Rapleys.

Uncertain outlook

The sheer uncertainty retailers dace is a further factor inducing them to limit their longer-term commitment and to instead rely more on 3PLs, says Steele. Typically, 3 PLs look for commitment of up to three years, with break clauses, he says.

‘Shorter leases are what the market was wanting anyway and the 3PL approach is an extension of that trend,’ he adds. ‘Retailers are finding it difficult to justify signing up for 10-year plus leases. Even three years is a longer-term position for them now.’.

Onerous lease commitments on balance sheers are a further disincentive for financial directors in retail and manufacturing. ‘If a property becomes surplus, you have to make provisions for the full liability of the lease,’ explains Steele. ‘On some buildings, that can blow a massive hole in someone’s P&L. It’s a major mind-focuser for finance directors.’

However, given the significant demand for space, landlords are in a position to resist demands for shorter-term leases, says Steele, further strengthening the hand of the 3PLs and encouraging their customers to grow their business with them. ‘If anything, I think lease lengths have been edging out and incentives have been shortening.’

‘Another factor in the 3PLs favour is that traditionally logistics requirements tend to come up very quickly in what is a relatively short procurement window. There is a temptation to give the problem to the 3PLs to sort out.’

Growth begets growth. The 3PLs’ greater buying power and familiarity with landlords and developers means they can do multiple deals as well as fast-track construction. ‘Development has been been as quick,’ says Steele. ‘You have very slick procurement now.’…

For the full article go to Property Week (27/09/2019).

The former Renault/Hyundai dealership on Hilton Road in Ashford, Kent, has been sold to Dunmore Ltd to be split up into three trade counter units.

Motorline placed the property on the market with Rapleys’ specialist Automotive & Roadside team, in advance of their relocation of the brands to a new site on Orbital Park elsewhere in Ashford.

The property was a dual branded dealership of nearly 17,000 sq ft on a site of 0.86 acres, with two glazed showrooms, offices and dedicated workshop facilities.

Mark Frostick of Rapleys commented; ‘we had interest from a variety of occupiers and users and we were able to tie up a purchase to coincide with our client’s relocation to their fantastic new premises elsewhere in the town. It was also somewhat of a homecoming deal for myself in that 20 years ago my first surveying job as a graduate was with Colyer Commercial in  the town.’

As reported in AM Online where Motorline’s latest openings in the area are summarised.

Rapleys Automotive and Roadside team were pleased to complete a deal on a former car showroom on Regents Park Road, North London. The 4,030 sq ft premise had a prominent frontage to the busy road and attracted significant interest from trade, retail and leisure operators which resulted in competitive bidding in excess of the quoting rent.

Toolstation were successful and secured a 10 year lease with V8 Properties Ltd. The unit is one of the first of a new retail format being rolled out by Toolstation within London. Planning consent for A1 was refused previously but after successful appeal it was overturned and the unit has now been refurbished to Toolstation brand standards.

Rapleys client Daniel Sayers of V8 Properties Limited, comments: ‘As a small family owned property business we are delighted that Rapleys have been able to secure excellent terms for the letting of our former car showroom, enabling its modernisation and long term occupation by a well-known national operator, thus safeguarding and significantly enhancing the value of our asset.

Geoff Sayer and his colleagues at Rapleys steered us expertly through a successful marketing campaign, a contentious dilapidations dispute and a tortuous planning process, aided by an enthusiastic tenant in Toolstation Limited.

Rapleys were able to advise us on marketing, rental value, dilapidations, business rates, planning and project management ultimately leading to a better deal than we had hoped for and enabling us to make significant savings along the way.

The constructive partnership of Geoff and his colleagues with us as the client and also with our tenant enabled this project to succeed (even when at times it seemed unlikely) and we are very grateful for that.’

Rapleys, the planning and property consultancy, has said the automotive retail industry is taking a “wait and see” approach on investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

While there are some franchises that will mandate a certain level of infrastructure and charging points based on their corporate identity, Mark Frostick, Rapleys senior associate roadside and automotive, told AM: “Investment in EV infrastructure is generally not on a lot of people’s radar from a property perspective right now.

“Everyone is looking at how technology is changing and doesn’t want to be caught investing in the wrong thing or to the wrong level.

“There are a lot of groups waiting to see what is happening before making that investment decision.”

For more from Mark Frostick and Peter Nicholas click through to the full article on AM Online.

There has been plenty of activity in the automotive sector across the UK in the last twelve months and Scotland is setting the pace. From business acquisitions to site relocations and new build projects, the dealership market is changing and growing.

In the used car market we have seen a second CarStore open by Peter Vardy (in Dundee) and a Motor Store, by Arnold Clark which has taken the place of a former supermarket in Aberdeen.

Arnold Clark expanded in Edinburgh and Paisley after acquiring Phoenix Car Company representing Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Suzuki in the area. Also in Edinburgh, Synter have constructed a brand new Porsche dealership at Newcraighall.

Eastern Western’s impact can be seen clearly in Dundee and Stirling in particular, with the acquisition of Barnetts Motor Group. This includes Volkswagen and Mazda franchises (Dundee), as well as the acquisition of the Honda franchise from the Phoenix Motor Group.

John Clark have also been active in both Dundee and Stirling. The acquisition of the Morrisons, Land Rover, 

Jaguar and Seat business in 2017 will be an asset to Stirling as they’ll no doubt develop a new ‘arch’ concept facility. In Dundee, they also take on the Volvo brand which we understand will be housed in the former BMW dealership once that has been successfully relocated to a purpose built facility.

This represents just some of the activity over the last couple of years but is representative of the consolidation in the sector. The drive from manufacturers for improved facilities has inevitably lead to the movement of franchises and some dealer groups disposing of their business.

We suspect that consolidation in the sector will continue over the next 12 months. Dealers will seek even greater efficiencies and the network concentration will remain in the core cities and towns, which will be supported by online sales and regional service centres.

Customers are traveling further to purchase cars and consequently demand in satellite towns is likely to decline from franchised retailers. However, this will create an opportunity for the used car market, as well as alternative uses, all of which will continue to drive value. For prime sites, these will become more critical for the franchises as they’ll continue to have a positive affect on land values. Rapleys have recently brought the former Volkswagen dealership in Dumfries to the market and it is already receiving good interest. The interest is not only from the automotive sector, but from other mainstream retailers and trade counter operators.

There continues to be speculation around the impact of online business on the traditional dealership model and clearly this is having a transformational impact on the broader retail economy. In our view however, we are still some way off from the bricks-and-mortar dealership being superseded altogether. Fundamentally customers still want the showroom experience and to kick a tyre or two before making a purchase.

If you require any advice on dealerships or any automotive services in Scotland and beyond, do not hesitate to get in touch with Peter in our Edinburgh Office.

Further details of our available properties are available here:
Motherwell – click here
Dumfries – click here

‘Lookers car dealership boasts flat above – a one-off or a new mixed-use template, asks Nick Hughes’ – Property Week.

‘Standing three storeys tall beneath a block of modern apartments, Lookers in Battersea, south London, is not your average car dealership – on two counts. Not only is it the largest Volkswagen showroom in Europe, it is also part of what is thought to be the first UK mixed-use scheme to include a dealership.

The development has been the best part of a decade in the making and involves three key players: Lookers, developer Linden Homes and agent Rapleys, which brought the other two parties together.’

Angus Irvine, Head of Development Services, brought Lookers and Linden Homes together to achieve a balanced and innovative scheme in this desirable London postcode. Stretching back for several decades a dealership has occupied this site but Lookers Chief Executive, Andy Bruce, could see the dealership ‘being dwarfed by the rise of surrounding developments’ over the last few years. With no intention to sell the freehold of their site they turned to Rapleys to unlock the value in the land and in this area, the value was in upward development.

The result was a tower development scheme with 173 apartments and ‘a full-blown dealership with servicing. That’s why this is unique’ says Angus. To overcome the challenges the multi discipline Rapleys team, led by Angus, brought together experts from across the firm’s DevelopmentPlanningInvestment and Building Consultancy practices to work with Lookers to maximise the significant land value of the site.

For the full article follow this link to Property Week or for direct advice on how Rapleys can help unlock the land potential on your site speak to Angus Irvine.


Rapleys’ Charities/Non-Profit team continue to be very active in the market and are delighted to share some of our available properties:




A full list is available here.

Apart from our usual consultancy of building and property matters, including landlord and tenant and building surveys, we are also currently engaged in a number of exciting development projects which can be found on the download link. For a no obligation initial meeting to discuss any of your property requirements contact Graham Smith or Adam Harvey


We are also delighted to be attending and sponsoring the networking reception again at this years Charity Property Conference. To find out more about this event and to secure your space please follow this link. We look forward to seeing you there!



Rapleys’ Automotive & Roadside team have been very active in East Anglia with support from the recently opened Cambridge office. In the attached newsletter are some examples of recent automotive instructions – you can also click here.

The team can advise on the full spectrum of property services on a confidential basis. For full details of all available properties click here.


Richard Curry, Partner in the Retail & Leisure team, speaks to Food Navigator about Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo. The online retail giant will lead a new $575m investment into the food delivery company alongside other investors. This investment will allow the food delivery service to improve the company’s tech team in the UK headquarters and expand further to reach new customers.

Is Amazon laying the foundations for a move into bricks and mortar? 

Amazon’s move is evidence of it tapping into a growing trend for food delivery, in urban zones especially, and possibly setting the foundations for a move into bricks and mortar, believes Richard Curry, partner in the retail team at property and planning consultancy Rapleys.

If a consumer could receive Deliveroo delivery of Amazon’s range of goods, he told FoodNavigator, “that is tapping into a food market and competing with retailers.”

If Amazon were looking to set up in bricks and mortar space, he notes, then, “having all this infrastructure in place is going to be key, as most of the bigger organisations that are already established in bricks and mortar have antiquated distribution networks that are focussed on stores.”

It would also need to show a point of difference to stand out. ” Having this facility would give them that in my view.” He added that from Amazon’s perspective the investment was a ‘win-win’.

“It gives them another way of breaking into that [food goods delivery] market in its own right and at the same time if they did want to go nationwide into bricks and mortar they are setting up that to give themselves the opportunity to make that decision without it being expenditure on a gamble.

They know that the [Deliveroo] operation works and it doesn’t necessarily commit them to go into bricks and mortar but it would be required by them if they were to.”

For the full article with opinions from other experts click here.

Rapleys’ Automotive & Roadside team have been very active in East Anglia with support of service lines offered from the recently opened Cambridge office. In the attached are some examples of recent petrol filling station and roadside retail instructions. Click on the download button for full details.

For our full list of available properties click here. 


Upcoming petrol retailer group RBK Services has acquired the former Co-Op petrol station in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, and plans to re-open the site.

Rapleys were appointed by Central England Co-Op to market their site once they had let their former superstore in Ramsey to Poundstretcher.

“Despite the site being closed, we had strong interest in the location and competitive bidding before finalising a deal,” said Mark Frostick, Senior Associate of Rapleys Automotive & Roadside team. “Operators are still seeing a lack of supply in the market and we continue to be able to market well-priced sites across the country and price ranges. It’s also great to see another site re-open.”

Ratnasingam “Bala” Balakrishnan, the MD of RBK Services Ltd, commented: “I have some major plans for the site once it has re-opened and rebranding and redecoration will soon have the site back to historic trading levels. The following services will be available to the public: a filling station with off licence, tyre centre and a hand car wash, as well as weekend cut price fuel and gas oil available at a reduced price for a limited time.”

Featured in Commercial News – click here. 
Featured in Forecourt Traderclick here.

The last market update, in February 2018, was delivered as the potential takeover of MRH by MFG was announced. At the time we predicted corporate activity would remain high and as we reflect and look forward, that is certainly still a strong theme within the industry.

Since the takeover of MRH by MFG we have seen many changes. Petrogas’ takeover of Welcome Break (reflecting our prediction of the market looking at Motorway Service Areas); Harvest Energy purchasing HKS; Phillips 66 buying NJB group; and Cretas acquiring 6 sites from David Taylor Forecourts.

These changes have seen a number of oil companies joining the likes of Esso, BP and Shell in both offering supply agreements and retailing directly themselves.

Elsewhere, the independent operators (Indies) have continued their growth both in this country and abroad with acquisitions in the USA, Italy and Australia for Euro Garages. Other Indies have continued to look to acquire sites in the UK however, there remain relatively few opportunities on the open market – as has been the case for the last few years.

The corporate acquisition currently hitting the headlines, which potentially has the biggest effect on the market, of course is Sainsbury’s buying Asda, and it hasn’t even happened yet. The CMA has been investigating the potential issues of this deal and the initial report was fairly damning. The CMA predicted that the merger would lead to fuel price rises, which presumably reflects the different pricing policies that the two supermarkets currently run. That said, it does also suggest any site currently close to an Asda petrol station might be seeing better margins in the future, if the sale does take place.

The total number of operational sites has again been relatively stable with a net closure of only 12, after 70 new sites opened, or re-opened. We expect this trend to continue and indeed we recently let a site that had been closed for over 15 years! There have also been a number of sites that have been knocked down and rebuilt, refurbished or extended. We expect this process to continue as forecourts continue to modernise in line with customer expectations.

The last 12 months have also seen an increase in collaborative work with our Planning team on several sites. Looking at extending opening hours, which will only add to the potential for operators to improve trading.

Outside of corporate and property acquisitions, the market has seen a few other changes. In June there was a massive 6p jump in the price of a litre of unleaded – it is worth noting since then prices have stabilised.

Electric charging has continued to grow with Tesco tying up with VW and BP’s acquisition of Chargemaster. Whilst electric vehicles are still only a small part of the market we expect that this will continue to grow and petrol stations will look to incorporate those on sites where there is a market for charging.

Going forward, we expect 2019 to be more of the same; corporate acquisitions, demand for new to industry sites and potential for existing sites to improve with new options.

However any prediction of 2019 can not avoid the looming presence of Brexit. At the time of writing, nothing had been decided and we haven’t seen signs of any major effects on the petrol retailers. The effect on the economy as a whole is more likely to be an issue than to retailers themselves in the long term, but like everyone at present, it’s a wait and see situation.

If you are looking for further sites or currently have a site that you need advice on do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) cast doubt on the planned Sainsbury’s-Asda merger as it reports ‘extensive competition concerns’. The experts react to the findings, with partner in Retail & Leisure, Richard Curry, sharing his views with The Grocer, Bloomberg and the European Supermarket Magazine.

As reported in The Grocer, Curry comments ‘…the only two alternatives that offer the same product range and shopping experience are Tesco and Morrisons – who are unlikely to be interested in enough of the large format stores likely to be seen as problematic by the CMA to make a difference.

The CMA’s provisional findings do increase the likelihood of the Sainsbury’s-Asda deal being scrapped. However, Walmart will clearly still be looking to offload Asda and there will likely be other suitors waiting in the wings.’

The full analyst from Richard and other experts can be views in the following publications:



Rapleys’ property and planning consultancy continue to deliver on their ambitious business development plan with the announcement of the latest office move for the Edinburgh team.

The team moves to Rutland Square this week, after a decision was taken not to renew the lease in Caledonian Exchange. The move provides Rapleys with superior accommodation that better suits their needs as well as a growing client base. By stepping over into EH1, Rapleys are at the centre of the commercial property market in the city and ultimately their valued clients will benefit from this accessible and vibrant location.

The key service lines offered from this hub are Town Planning, Corporate & Investor Management, Business Space, Retail & Leisure and Automotive & Roadside. With local knowledge and national insight from the wider network of offices the professional teams provide comprehensive property and planning solutions on a value-added basis consistently.

Colin Steele, Partner and head of the Edinburgh office, comments: “this move comes at a great time as we continue to expand the team and service lines available here from our Edinburgh hub. On a wider practice level, the last 12 months have seen many of our regional offices move up and on to better spaces, improving the environment for the benefit of colleagues and clients alike. It is great to align ourselves to the overall business development plan and we will continue to offer the excellent, local services that our clients value us for, from this new location.”

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner adds: “I am delighted with the new office space at Rutland Square. It is a recognised and established business address in the heart of the city. Needless to say, we look forward to welcoming clients to, and advising from, our new home in Edinburgh.”

Full contact details for Rapleys Edinburgh

8A Rutland Square
Edinburgh EH1 2AS

0370 777 6292

Property and planning consultancy Rapleys announces the launch of a new office in Cambridge. The new office is Rapleys’ second in Cambridgeshire, with the firm being founded in Huntingdon and maintaining a strong presence and heritage in region since 1951.

The Cambridge office consists of both professional advisory and transactional teams from across Rapleys’ service lines, delivering a joined-up, multi-disciplinary offering to clients in the region. Each team consists of professionals who live and work in the city, with strong established relationships across Cambridge’s range of complementary consultancy services.

Stuart Harris has been appointed Head of the Cambridge office, and joins Rapleys with more than 30 years’ experience working in the industry and region, including roles with Strutt & Parker and Carter Jonas.

Stuart, alongside the existing partnership, will be responsible for promoting and coordinating the delivery of the firm’s core property consultancy and town planning services in the city, including: Town Planning, Building Consultancy, Development, Affordable Housing & Viability, Commercial Agency, Landlord & Tenant and Investment.

Robert Clarke, Senior Partner at Rapleys, commented: “Our new Cambridge office, alongside the appointment of Stuart, represents a key further stage in Rapleys’ evolution, which builds on our long-established heritage, presence and reputation in the region going back to the founding of the firm in Huntingdon in 1951. We saw a real opportunity in Cambridge, which is undergoing substantial growth, and a market opening where we can bring in services – such as Affordable Housing and Viability, Strategic Land, Building Consultancy and Town Planning – which are currently underrepresented in the region or are subject to increasing demand. At the same time, our expanded footprint and capacity in the region further complements our national expansion programme – providing clients access to partner-led teams with both local expertise and UK-wide reach.”

Stuart Harris, Head of the Cambridge Office at Rapleys, added: “Principally I am delighted to join Rapleys at this exciting juncture. There are significant opportunities in Cambridge, which is rapidly increasing in commercial importance and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. This looks set to continue – not least driven by the wider strategic plan for the region including the Cambridge-Oxford arc and expressway – and we are seeing an increasing demand particularly for planning and consulting services from businesses seeking to capitalise on this growth. I look forward to working with the wider Rapleys team to help clients seize these opportunities.”

Rapleys’ Cambridge team can be contacted at 20 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JD / 0370 777 6292.

A new Burger King which has opened at Godwin Developments’ Brampton Hut Services on the A14 near Huntingdon has already created 14 new jobs with the team expected to grow to 25 during peak trading.

Now the focus is on two further turnkey units to let on the site which will create even more jobs at the busy A1 and A14 routes.

Jason Doe, area manager at EuroGarages, who are the lead tenant on site, said: “Brampton Hut Burger King represents a fantastic opportunity for a progressive, forward thinking and rapidly expanding organisation such as the EuroGarages to bring a high-profile quick service offering to what promises to be one of the foremost roadside services currently under development in the UK.

“We very much look forward to growing our team and customer base both here and further afield.”

Letting agents were Rapleys who specialise in the retail, leisure and roadside markets.

Jonathan Jones, surveyor at Rapleys said: “Rapleys are delighted to have acted on behalf of the Godwin Group in the letting to EuroGarages trading as Burger King at Brampton Hut Services.

“The excellent traffic of the A1 and A14 combined with the critical mass of food and beverage occupiers has established Brampton Hut Services as a strong ‘Food to Go’ destination and as such Burger King will undoubtedly trade well here.

“There are now only two turnkey units available to let, one of which benefits from a drive-thru lane, and leasing enquires in the roadside market are encouraged for this rarely available opportunity,” he said.

Ketan Patel, development manager at Godwin Developments, said: “This site now offers a Greggs, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King with close amenities to a large BP Connect filling station and truck park, with a Brewers Fayre restaurant, Premier Inn Hotel close by.

“It is clearly a magnet for motorists looking to take a break and top up at this busy A14 and A1 interchange, and so the remaining two units to let provide an excellent opportunity for food outlets that are complementary to the existing local provision and add value and consumer choice.”

Godwin Development update – click here. 

Case Study 

Rapleys acquired a site, of circa 2.4 acres, for a new build dealership to be fully compliant to Ford’s corporate identity. The site includes a 6 car showroom, 10 bay workshop, parts store and a fully surfaced site for used car display and new car storage.The client needed the project delivered in 12 months due to relocation.

The client’s previous site was sold by their landlord and therefore they had to relocate relatively quickly. Rapleys were appointed to acquire the site, successfully finding somewhere suitable for redevelopment and terms were agreed on a subject to planning basis. Once planning was approved, Rapleys acted as Lead Consultant, procuring other consultants services, and Project Managing the delivery of the new dealership.

Successfully managed the project team, delivered the brief on time and on budget to the clients satisfaction.

Today in Property Week, Nick Hughes asks ‘what impact the divestment of Sainsbury’s/Asda stores would have on the sector.’

‘A great deal for customers, colleagues, suppliers and shareholders of both businesses.’ That’s what the leaders of Sainsbury’s and Asda promised in April as the two confirmed plans for a £51bn mega-merger that, if approved, will reshape the grocery landscape with significant implications for the retail property market…

…A rebalancing of the big four’s property portfolios, although meaningful, is unlikely to significantly alter the dynamics of the grocery market; however, Rapleys partner Richard Curry floats a prospect that has the potential to change the face of the food retail landscape in the UK and send every supermarket executive into a state of high alert.

‘The CMA included (Amazon-owned) Whole Foods as part of its phase-one investigation’, Curry notes. ‘While Whole Foods itself is unlikely to take on a large-footprint Asda or Sainsbury’s unit, it does raise the question of what role Amazon more broadly will play going forward’. ‘We know the CMA is considering the impact of online retail on grocery shopping and if Amazon senses an opportunity to take on a nationwide portfolio of large units that can be subdivided to house various operations – from Whole Foods groceries to non-food and logistics – the temptation to make a big bricks-and-mortar splash will be strong indeed.’

The full article is available here on Property Week. 

Rapleys is delighted to announce that real estate investment company Aprirose has sold the former Volkswagen dealership on Edgware Road to Jemca.

The 19,859 sq ft site was originally marketed to let, but after being inundated with bids and following an offer from Jemca, Aprirose chose to move forward with the sale. The location of the site was a big draw for potential buyers with the property situated in a prominent position amongst other big-name retailers.

Heading up the deal was Rapleys Automotive and Roadside Partner Daniel Cook and Paul Taylor from Latitude Real Estate advised Jemca.

Daniel commented that the circumstances surrounding the sale “demonstrate clearly the difficulty car dealers are having in finding suitable premises as they now have to compete with not only potentially higher value uses, but also the investment market in order to locate to an appropriate site.”

Published in MotorTrader.com

Godwin Developments has announced the first two occupiers, secured by Rapleys Retail & Leisure agency team, on its Pineham neighbourhood retail site in Northampton.

The Midcounties Co-operative and Blossom Tree Day Nursery will be the first two tenants on the development.

Godwin Developments acquired the 1.1 acre site from Taylor Wimpey Homes and is building 12,600 sq ft of retail and nursery space.

Co-op has taken 4,000 sq ft and Blossom Tree Day Nursery will move into the slightly larger unit of 4,550 sq ft. Other units on the site are still available and continue to be marketed by Rapleys, cick here for the marketing brochure.

Stuart Pratt, group development director and co-founder of Godwin Developments, said: “We are delighted to have secured Co-op and Blossom Tree Day nurseries as the first two tenants for the Pineham Neighbourhood centre.

“The overall development has now provided over 600 new homes as well as a new primary school opposite our site. We now have only two remaining retail units totalling 2,500 sq ft and one D2 use class unit available.”

Alfred Bartlett, head of retail and leisure at Rapleys, said: “We are extremely pleased to have effected these key lettings and that Co-op and Blossom Tree Day Nurseries as anchor tenants, have been able to envisage the strategic benefits of the Pineham Neighbourhood centre, which not only serves the new primary school development and over 600 houses coming on stream but the existing Pineham village also as well as the adjoining Prologis Park and the wider distribution and business development just off junction 15A M1.

“The remaining units provide great opportunities for complementary retail, café or food to go operators.”

Source: Godwin Developments

“Aberdeen Standard Investments has announced that it has exchanged contracts with Explore Learning, leasing a new unit at Two Rivers Shopping Centre Staines-Upon-Thames – an outdoor hybrid retail, leisure and lifestyle scheme.

Explore Learning’s Richard Curry, of Property and Planning Consultancy firm Rapleys, has worked alongside Two River’s Letting Agency – Lunson Mitchenall to secure Explore Learning with a new 1,443 sq ft unit, bringing a complementary community use into Two Rivers Shopping Centre.

The retailer has agreed the terms on the lease, and will open the educational tuition centre in autumn/winter 2018. The acquisition further enhances the portfolio of Explore learning who now have 140 centres throughout the UK and are actively looking to continue their expansion.

Since 2001, Explore Learning has helped over 200,000 children excel academically and reach their potential with dedicated tutors always on hand to encourage, explain and ensure children progress. The popular learning centre aims to inspire fearless learners: whether it’s getting ready to start a new school, meeting a new teacher or making friends.”

Explore Learning still have active requirements at several other locations, contact Richard Curry with any suitable opportunities. Full details available here.

It could take until next year to get a final picture on how and where a merged Asda/Sainsbury’s business will have to dispose of sites (stores and petrol stations), according to Mark Frostick. Mark states it will be an even longer term before a final position on pricing is agreed, so, for now, it will be a question of wait and see.

It is likely that the majority of the petrol stations that the new company will operate will be dependent on the food store attachment. In terms of potentially disposed properties, with the discount stores still held as most likely purchasers,  the likelihood of them keeping the petrol elements operational seems very slim indeed. However, it is early days and the outcome could still prove unpredictable.

Mark expands on his expert opinion of the market and the possible outcomes of this merger in the full article in Forecourt Trader here

The very public collapse of House of Fraser and Homebase highlights, once again, the need for retailers, shareholders and landlords to be realistic about the potential pitfalls and solutions created by property assets in an insolvency or distressed sale situation.

Mike Ashley offered £50m for HoF before administration, but once creditors rejected a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and it filed for administration, an insolvent HoF was worth £40m more to him and Ashley upped his bid to £90m. Why?

Insolvency versus CVA

The benefits to a purchaser of buying an insolvent company is the ability to jettison existing creditors, to negotiate with landlords to novate leases, renegotiate terms with suppliers, vacate properties and to avoid the costs of dilapidation charges to exit stores and of writing down stock. To Mike Ashley, £40m was the opportunity cost of obtaining all the same restructuring choices retailers are increasingly looking to achieve through a CVA – but with a completely free hand.

In contrast, and possibly even because of what unfolded at HoF, nearly 96% of Homebase’s creditors approved a CVA. These creditors will incur the costs of supporting the proposal but the potential upside to the company and ultimately to them, is a return to profitability and of course continued occupation of their asset.

Monthly rental payments, downsize options, rent concession periods and business rate reductions are all tools the Homebase CVA is seeking to implement. Currently 42 of its 241 stores will shut and head office jobs will go. The business plan to improve financial performance over the next three years across a significantly rationalised store portfolio will be the test of a successful CVA process and will be watched closely by the market.

Step change

CVAs, just like Administrations, are governed by the Insolvency Act 1986 but are more restrictive. Whilst there is a growing trend for retailers to seek the CVA route and categorise landlords into different pots as a means of restructuring, it is nothing new.

A decade ago, retailer The Works was under administration. The purchaser didn’t want all the stores so ahead of the sale, and to facilitate the deal being done, some stores were closed and some taken on a ‘licence to occupy’ for between a month and up to a year, allowing the purchaser to renegotiate lease terms, assess trading levels or trade out stock.

So, whilst not a new phenomenon, the pace and frequency of the CVA process is undoubtedly increasing.

Will retailers use insolvency/CVAs to ditch unprofitable stores?

A perfect storm is brewing; declining sales, increasing costs, rising business rates, Brexit-related currency fluctuations, the introduction of the national living wage and apprenticeship levy, and the rapid growth of online retailing. The result is many retail and restaurant businesses toying with CVA or even administration, as a ‘simple’ way to shed unprofitable stores.

Thankfully, there is nothing to suggest, yet, that operators are jumping the gun and using this tool to get their businesses into better shape. This may be because there is still a stigma that comes with pursuing this route and the increased corporate governance scrutiny means directors risk prosecution if their actions are seen to defraud creditors.

CVAs often allow a company to keep trading, which may prove a better outcome for creditors, long-term, than going into administration. For purchasers, buying out of administration allows an element of wiping the slate clean, enabling fresh negotiations on every element of the business, including property assets. As pressure on the high street continues to mount, it’s clear that flexibility and imagination are needed from both retailers and landlords to use property assets more creatively to prevent sizeable losses on both sides.

To learn more or discuss how Rapleys can assist contact Alfred Bartlett, Head of the Retail & Leisure Group or Russell Smith, Partner in Retail & Leisure Group. This article can also be viewed on the CoStar column

All eyes are back on the Sainsbury’s–Asda deal after the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced the start of its investigation. Should the deal progress, everyone will be closely watching what happens to the combined business’s property portfolios should the CMA force a sale of stores.

Digging below the surface, we might read this as being phase two of Sainsbury’s strategy of pushing into the discount market. Asda traditionally has a reputation for value and a core customer base which is, generally speaking, a different demographic from the average Sainsbury’s shopper. There are also geographical factors at play here, with Asda strong in the north and Sainsbury’s in the south.

In the case of retained stores, Sainsbury’s will be acquiring some significant issues. The extent to which the Asda stores holding company continues to operate and whether Sainsbury’s decides to, or is able to, guarantee the status of Asda stores may have a real impact on landlord relationships and negotiations in the future.

It is possible that we will see some sort of restructure, with retailers turning to mechanisms such as CVAs, even in businesses that are performing well, to force a conversation with landlords.

At the same time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that both Asda and Sainsbury’s sweet spot is in food retail, with many of the stores Sainsbury’s is acquiring are just too big for the market these days. The fact is that many food retailers are now facing the challenge of having significant surplus space because of historic expansion strategies – an issue Sainsbury’s itself sought to mitigate with the acquisition of Argos. Asda’s policy has generally been based on very large-volume stores and while it has a decent non-food range, the format on the whole is not optimised around the core food product.

Looking ahead, if the CMA forces a re-sale of stores, the irony is that the likely buyers are just those brands – Aldi and Lidl – that Sainsbury’s is looking to defend itself against.

Amazon ambitions

Debate will continue to swirl around Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar ambitions and they will likely be part of the equation, even if they’re not going to be a realistic suitor for true customer-facing stores.

What is perhaps more interesting is whether the CMA considers the likes of B&M and Home Bargains in its deliberations. In some of their larger stores, despite having a restriction of 30% food sales, they could be offering an equivalent sales area to the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

They would be more able to maximise the space on offer in any larger stores that the CMA forces the disposal of, and could arguably compete with the discounters, as well as Sainsbury’s and Asda, on both food and non-food.

Overall, in any enforced sale the most attractive sites will likely be any freehold stores in the Sainsbury’s/Asda portfolio, which may be sacrificed by Sainsbury’s/Asda in order to fulfill the merger requirements.

Another possibility in this scenario is that if no, or limited, prospective buyers for the largest sites can be found, the CMA may be forced to consider forcing a sale of Sainsbury’s smaller or convenience stores. These would arguably be much more attractive to potential buyers and any significant convenience portfolio reduction could be a real fly in the ointment for the merger.

For further discussion or information get in touch with Richard Curry, Partner in Rapleys Retail & Leisure Group. The full article can be viewed here in Property Week as well as The Grocer and European Supermarket Magazine.

We have restructured our retail and leisure business to operate as a single, dynamic and cohesive entity in the interests of more finely responding to the current challenges, and opportunities, facing today’s market place.

Previously, the partnership’s retail and leisure offer was split into Agency, Development and Lease Consultancy services operating from four of our six offices. Now, the function will combine these services into a single nationwide team as supplemented, where necessary, by the advice of our Investment, Asset Management, Town Planning and other related services. The new retail and leisure offer, with associated services, will be across the entirety of our office network.

The new Retail and Leisure Group focuses on all areas of the sector, including food and beverage, and offers its clients a comprehensive service from deal origination through acquisition, development management, lease consultancy and disposal/exit. As part of its remit the team is addressing an increasing demand to advise and devise strategies to let vacant space, or boost the appeal of new developments or existing schemes, in the face of an ever changing market as fuelled, at least in part, by online competition. Through the combination of our national skill base and regional expertise the new Group has already been successful in working with, amongst others, operators and landlords to either source the right floor space opportunities or attract an appropriate and robust tenant mix across a number of schemes.

The new Group is headed by Equity Partner, Alfred Bartlett, who commented that “This is a progressive move by the partnership and I am delighted to be heading this exciting group within the business: the co-ordination of which has already resulted in some significant wins for national retailers, lifestyle operators, investors, developer and others. The retail market is, clearly, providing opportunities from the widely reported challenges and we look forward to assisting our clients, in the future, in realising their goals and aspirations.”

Alfred is supported by fellow Equity Partner, Russell Smith, in managing the Group. Other partners include Tim Holt and Richard Curry. A number of new appointments throughout our office network have also been recently made within the Group, including Henry Lang in Bristol, Matthew Guest and Jonathan Jones in Birmingham, Thomas Ball in Manchester and Rebecca Hughes in Edinburgh. There will be more to come.

If you would like to know more about the group, or simply wish to discuss your future requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We will be delighted to hear from you.


Within the Charities sector of Rapleys we have had a number of church buildings to sell recently. We have come to expect a strong response from a diverse range of faith groups when these redundant buildings are in a city. Lately, however, rural locations have proved to be equally stimulating in responses. This is some cheer when we are equally well aware of some churches that have been struggling to keep the doors open.

All around we see closures along the high street which have left empty retail buildings. Can we find a silver lining here? Usually a church does not want to relocate; location, location, location after all! However, by integrating our ecclesiastic specialists with other teams at Rapleys, between planning, retail agency and charities consultancy, we have a one-stop-shop formula that we are finding to be of great interest to clients.

This collective approach has resulted in a number of groups being introduced to empty retail units or warehouses. Out of town retail or commercial parks can be attractive where travel and parking can be easily provided, but the location remains close. In some cases we have considered shared occupation on different days of the week.

Rapleys are currently instrumental in working with a number of churches who have existing property suitable to facilitate the development of their site to gain new facilities. The sale of part of the site is the primary funder for a new church. Not everybody is so fortunate to have such circumstances however. Therefore, the acquisition of redundant buildings might be a worthwhile consideration as an opportunity, at a preferential price or at a reduced rental. In either case there is the likelihood of follow up with a change of planning use application and maybe a conversion to suit.

The creation of new space for church activity, possibly in support of the neighbourhood, demonstrates the integration of church life with that of its community. For example, we have recently agreed many tenancies for preschool companies.

Should anything in the above strike a chord and you would like to enquire further, please contact Graham Smith in the first instance for either an introduction to the charities consultancy or any other department at Rapleys.

Phil Blackford, head of automotive and roadside, shares his opinions with The Grocer on how independent fuel suppliers have partly benefited from the majority of oil suppliers exiting direct fuel retailing. ‘This gap in the market has given the independents almost free reign to expand.’

There has been a fundamental rethink from the forecourt traders and the retail offering they want to make, moving away from the ‘mags and fags’ to the more sophisticated convenience offering of local produce, craft beers and artisan breads. This shift has opened up the forecourts offerings with ‘food to go’ options increasing also (for example Applegreen’s partnership with the likes of Chopstix Noodle Bar) the forecourts are switching to an attractive destination.

To read the full story go to The Grocer or get in touch with Phil Blackford to better understand the new business models and benefits they could have.

Rapleys’ Automotive and Roadside team has strengthened its northern presence with 3 new additions to the team; Stuart Lobb, William Seddon and Peter Paphitis. They are all based in our new Manchester home at 55 Spring Gardens and will enable us to service an ever increasing workload across all property disciplines. Our specialist sector offering also extends to planning, rating, building consultancy and project management and investment. In this newsletter we highlight some of our recent successful transactions showing the range of work we undertake in the sector.

Click here for the full newsletter.

Jardine Motors Group has completed the sale of the company’s former Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Slough, Berkshire. The building was available due to Jardine relocating to a nearby purpose-built 42,000 sq ft JLR dealership.

Mark Frostick, senior associate at Rapleys added: “This clearly shows that in spite of negative headlines about the automotive market in the press, there remains a market in the press, there remains a market for prime freeholds from the sector.”

For the full story go to motortrader.com

Top 50 Indie Karan Retail has secured the lease on the BP-branded petrol filling station fronting the A2 at Bapchild just outside of Sittingbourne, Kent, in a deal arranged by Rapleys.

Damien Lippet commented ‘due to the client’s requirements the property was offered confidentially to the market. However, opportunities to acquire well-established forecourts such as this are relatively few and far between in the south east…’

For the full details click through to Forecourt Trader. 

Daniel Cook shares his opinion with AM Online about how the decision Vauxhall has taken to ‘rationalise’ its network of dealerships may have come as a shock, but does this really indicate the death of the bricks-and-mortar dealership model?

Parallels could be drawn between various retailers, like Toys R’Us and Carpetright, who have felt the strain on being tied into properties but the dynamics of the automotive trade are very different.

Click here to read more from Daniel.

According to Daniel Cook, partner in the Automotive & Roadside team at Rapleys, the market may have topped out. “Looking at the UK market right now, there are signs that dealership values may have peaked. Fundamentally, there is an increasing quantity of dealership properties on the market, largely driven by the volume franchises who are looking to streamline their portfolios.”

The full article can be found in Motor Trader or by clicking here.

As an Investor in People (IIP) awarded company, Rapleys is committed to our staff and their development. We are pleased to announce that we have continued to grow our team in the last three months with 10 new professional appointments.

Our new team members will allow us to better service our clients and promote new service lines across our office network.

Please click through to the full newsletter to meet our new team members and those who have been awarded promo

The 2017 food retail market was characterised by the ever decreasing results and an allied lack of expansion amongst the traditional big grocers, possibly with the exception of Co-Op. Then on the other hand, there is the seemingly non-ending expansion for the budget chains Aldi and Lidl.

Market share

Early signs in the First Quarter indicate a steadying of market share:

05.11.17 03.12.1728.01.18

Christmas 2017 gave stores a welcome festive boost, with sales up according to Kantar’s statistics. This was possibly driven more by seasonal and ‘one off’ offers rather than on underlying improvements in core sales.

A convenient truth

The move to acquire wholesale businesses, the Co-op/Nisa deal along with Tesco merging with Booker, opens up new opportunities for the convenience market to provide wider product ranges and mitigate the threat posed by the discounters and reach new markets.

Tesco have made noises heralding a different strategy for dealing with this new dynamic, announcing their own ‘plan’ for a range of discount stores. The example of Sainsbury’s Netto venture provides a stark warning however. To ensure a discounter programme gets off the ground, there is a requirement for a critical mass of stores to build profile and brand loyalty. It is worth bearing in mind that Lidl opened its first UK store in 1994, with market penetration only really mushrooming in the last 10 years or so and possibly assisted by economic conditions.

Simultaneously, the top end of the market is also under pressure. Waitrose are re-evaluating their optimum store size to better align their bricks-and-mortar footprint with the reality of trading conditions. Booths being put up for sale also confirms that the premium end is under intense pressure and that a critical mass of stores is necessary to defend against it.

Right sizing

As so-called ‘right sizing’ continues across the board there is still a legacy of sites where retailers are seeking to extract themselves from commitments, with it becoming clear that there was a degree of overstretching in the hypermarket boom years. An obvious source of new sites has been connected sites where the ‘hypermarket’ model is no longer required. Alternative uses, such as residential or a discount food/discount store mix have been sought, yet these sites could easily and equably be occupied by the Big Four. At the same time, the challenging retail environment has seen several businesses fall into real financial distress, most recently Toys R’Us. These company’s portfolios are potential investment opportunities for food retailers.

eCommerce calling

Everyone in the market continues to wait for Amazon to make a move. Clearly, the eCommerce giant is watching developments too and sizing up the opportunities. There doesn’t appear to be an active requirement for supermarket sites as yet, but that may change as Amazon gets its ducks in a row. It is likely that when a move is made, it will be a wedge-type manoeuvre in a key market, perhaps using its logistical might and growing network of urban satellite delivery systems, to establish a ready-meals service for example. Or, alternatively, we may see an acquisitive move for a business such as Iceland, which, despite the growth of Ocado, probably has the most efficient delivery network.

For more details, comments or advice do not hesitate to get in touch with Richard Curry, Partner in the Retail & Leisure Group.


Rapleys’ Automotive and Roadside team are active throughout the UK but with the opening of our Birmingham office in May 2016, our presence and activity has further strengthened in the West Midlands. We highlight here some of our recent successful transactions showing the range of work we undertake in the sector. 

Experience includes site acquisitions, project management, lease renewal, planning services and much more. We pride ourselves on providing an unmatched continuity of service and high level of expertise and knowledge to all, from an independent car dealer to a nationally represented client.


As we come to the end of the financial year 2017/2018 and look forward to the next, we reflect on the progress and strength of the industry. Requirements for petrol stations did not see a great decline and top dealers are still making significant deals.

The year did record a slight drop in petrol filling station numbers. This was however marginal, at just 52 fewer sites, down to 8,407 (source: Experian Catalist Market Summary Report Nov 2017). We expect a number of these are small local unbranded sites and we do continue to see a steady flow of closed down sites also re-opening. Rapleys has transactions in solicitor’s hands for a number of sites to reopen, including a site that has been closed for almost 15 years! We expect to see more new to industry sites developed and existing stock redeveloped.

Demand for sites across the board remains strong and the lack of available stock is continuing to keep both freehold and leasehold prices high. As margins remain strong this is likely to continue. If the backlash against diesel continues there could be some change in the nature of fuel demand but we have yet to see this have a significant effect.

Top 50 Dealers

In terms of the major news, we have continued to see the top dealer groups expand and at present MRH, Motor Fuels, Euro Garages, Rontec, Co-Op and Petrogas operate approximately 20% of all Petrol Stations in the country. Their numbers have been boosted by corporate takeovers of a number of the smaller groups within the Top 50. Examples include, MFG acquired Golden Cross in January, MRH acquisition of Chartman in September and Applegreen acquiring 7 sites from Carsley Group. At current rates there may not be enough groups to form a top 50!

However, in terms of numbers, Euro Garages have acquired the most by going global. Having started from a single site in Bury in 2001 they have now expanded into Europe to become the largest retail customer of Esso. They are looking further afield with the recently announced $2.15 bn deal to acquire 762 sites in the US from The Kroger Co. which suggests that the two questions are:

a) where are they going to acquire next?
b) if they are looking at the US will they have to change their name!

The last 12 months have also seen the supermarkets revisiting tying up with existing fuel operators, and again this has been met with mixed success. Recently we have seen MRH tie up with Co-op, Euro Garages with Sainsburys and Morrisons with Rontec, however of these only the latter is still on-going after a trial period. This would appear to be due to operational issues rather than a bad idea and we expect further tie ups are likely to be trialled in the future.

We have also seen the return of demand for Motorway Service Areas. There have been relatively few new developments in recent years with the new services on the M5 at Gloucester being the only notable exception. However, we are now seeing announcements and planning applications on a number of new locations throughout the UK. Applegreen are possibly the most active as they look to replicate their success in Ireland.

Ahead to 2018/19

Looking forward, the recently announced deal merging MFG and MRH could lead to a new level of super group with almost 1,000 sites. It’s too early to confirm the fallout of this deal but we could see its ripples felt for a long time.

We predict that the market will continue as the last 12 months with demand for sites to continue, corporate activity to be high and more sites to open. The last few years have seen changes and growth and we expect this to continue through 2018 and into 2019.

For further details on currently available sites please go to our properties page or speak to Mark Frostick or Stuart Lobb.


The fuel forecourt market has seen major changes in recent years. Roadside development has increased with more innovative and customer focused sites being built and there is now high demand for land adjoining main roads – from which landowners could capitalise.

The oil companies have generally been retreating from direct retailing, deciding instead to supply to independent (indie) operators trading under the traditional fuel banners. Some of the largest indie groups are backed by significant international private equity money and are driving up values. They are looking for new-to-industry sites in prominent locations of 0.25 acres upwards. Demand is for both freehold and leasehold options and values often outstrip existing use value significantly.

There is a strong demand for sites across the whole country, along both existing and newly planned main arterial roads.

Innovative market

To drive profit and value from the sites, innovation has been key. Partnering between fuel operators and well known retailers is now evident across the UK with the likes of Subway, Costa, Greggs, and Starbucks regularly appearing within the wider forecourt developments. Likewise, the indies are also tying up with supermarkets including Morrisons and the various Co-Op groups.

Demand for sites

With new road building and town expansions taking place nationally, there has never been a better time for land owners to take advantage of the insatiable demand from fuel operators. Where gaps in the national forecourt network exist, land values for roadside development have never been higher.

Future opportunities

Having been involved in the development of forecourt sites through planning, agency, project management and investment disposal, we have been able to take part in the market changes as they have progressed and recognise the exciting opportunities which lie ahead. With a sound knowledge of this market, we are best placed to help evaluate site suitability and its potential.

If you know of any suitable sites or would like more information, please contact Philip Blackford.

With the continued demand for dessert parlours and the increase in the number of both brands and franchisees, this food and beverage (F&B) offer looks set to replicate the spectacular rise of the coffee shop culture in the UK.

Like coffee shops, dessert parlours were relatively unknown on the UK high street and leisure scene as recently as 7 years ago, but we have witnessed them becoming more and more sought after and a regular in the F&B line up on retail and leisure schemes that we are bringing to the market, both in town and out-of-town.

Interestingly, apart from the US giants, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme – both of whom have only relatively recently themselves re-entered the UK market – the current demand for sites is largely being driven by independent operators and shows little sign of being a mere fad.

Independent operators

Data released by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) shows that independents opened more shops in the first half 2017 than in the same period last year, whilst national chains continued to fall. Café style operations, such as dessert parlours, is one of the key growth areas and this looks set to continue as independent operators, such as Patisserie Valerie – the original cake and dessert retailer with over 100 outlets – continues its organic growth and franchised operators such as Creams – who lead the franchised sector with over 50 outlets – look to roll the concept out nationally from London and the South East.

Hot on their heels are brands such as Kaspas, Treatz and Heavenly Desserts, as well as a number of newer and smaller operations, all of whom already have double digit outlets in multiple locations with a variety of trading formats – operating on high streets, in shopping centres and on out-of-town retail and leisure schemes. These operators have all evolved to take advantage of the culture developing among young people, students and families of going out in the evenings for a dessert. Just like the quick service restaurant franchisees, the fortunes of these operators also look set to soar and accordingly add incremental value to the property assets they occupy.

If the coffee shop experience is anything to go by, watch out for the rise of dessert parlours!

We expect demand to continue to increase along with the profile of dessert parlours in retail and leisure schemes alongside the more established usual suspects – and there is a long list of operators they like to sit next to! Not only should the line up and marketing of schemes be geared to accommodating this use, but consideration should also be given to the design of centres to welcome these operators as part of the leisure mix.

Rapleys is able to advise on the development/redevelopment of schemes to appeal to this wider market, as well as identify the appropriate operators to create a vibrant retail & leisure destination. For more information, please contact Alfred Bartlett.


Forecourt Trader 25/10/2017

“Plans to force motorway services and large petrol retailers to install electric charge and hydrogen refuelling points under a new Bill being introduced in Parliament, could cost the industry millions, depending on the definition of ‘large’, according to Mark Frostick, senior associate in Rapleys’ automotive and roadside team.”

Frostick predicts that the costs could amount to £250m for the industry.

Read the full article on forecourttrader.co.uk

TheBusinessDesk.com 04/10/2017

“The opening of a new foodstore at a Birmingham mixed-use development is expected to trigger interest in the site from would-be tenants.

The new 13,000 sq ft M&S Foodhall is acting as the anchor tenant of the scheme, which is situated on the corner of St Mary’s Row and Oxford Road in Moseley.”

Alfred Bartlett, Head of Rapleys’ Retail & Leisure Group, said: “This is a landmark scheme for Moseley and the surrounding local area that has significantly enhanced what was previously a dilapidated car dealership site.

“M&S’ occupation is a real boon for the development and we anticipate significant and continued interest in the remaining two commercial units.”

View the full article at TheBusinessDesk.com

Whilst the past few years have been quite tumultuous in the country’s political and economic scenes, affecting many property sectors, the demand for church properties has strengthened in many locations.

In our charities consultancy team, we have noted increased demand when bringing new church properties to the market. The sale of a church in Queens Park, for example, saw over 125 different parties inspect the property before a strong bidding process resulted in a sale which almost doubled the client’s price expectations. This has even been the case with demand for some of the less obviously desirable properties in not so popular locations.

Interest has come from a complete spectrum of faith groups as well as other D1 users such as schools, nurseries, dance studios and exhibition halls. These parties are facing increased competition from developers looking to create residential developments or mixed-use redevelopments. Demand from faith groups in particular, who are looking to be owner occupiers, has been so strong that they have secured sufficient financial resources to out-bid these developers.

Repurposed sites

The distinctive history and characteristics of these properties are adding to the allure for many, and often the sites are repurposed from their original use whilst maintaining the D1 planning use. As our social climate evolves, so the community buildings are finding new use with a change of owner. Churches which have become redundant and would have been left to depreciate are receiving a new lease of life particularly in the education sector.

We have been equally busy with new lettings of D1 properties for use by a variety of pre-school activity providers as well as a mix of fitness and lifestyle service providers.

New appointment

Rapleys is very pleased to have been appointed by Manchester Diocesan Board of Finance as property consultants for both their glebe and investment properties.

This appointment reflects the high level service provision from each of our six national offices where amongst others, we already work with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Thames North and North West Synods of United Reformed Church, and Church of England diocese including Southwark, London, Ely and Chelmsford.

For any more information on the charity property sector, please contact Graham Smith.

After many years of warehousing/distribution being a humdrum, low growth sector of the market, it has been experiencing a lot of change over the past 2 to 3 years.

Recently we have seen:

  • Bigger “mega” sheds commonly >500,000 sq ft and some 1m+ sq ft being developed
  • Buildings getting taller with commonly 15m+ eaves and often 20m+
  • Longer/thinner cross-docked buildings with low site density for delivery/parcel operations
  • Environmentally friendly sheds with green/living roofs, photovoltaic roofs/elevations, wind turbines, water harvesting and low carbon components
  • Quicker developed sheds in c35-40 weeks on enabled plots
  • Sheds with greater elements of automation/handling/delivery systems

These developments have been driven by occupiers seeking greater efficiency in their distribution networks to reduce their costs and carbon footprint to meet the demands of their customers.

At the forefront of this has been the prodigious growth of internet/direct sales activity which includes the pure on-line operators, such as Amazon, and also the e-tail arms of traditional food and non-food retailers as they compete with each other for market share and defend their market presence against the march of the new entrants.

Last mile delivery

The various delivery formats all have speed and efficiency at their core but also have distinct offers such as click and collect in-store or at a pick up point, next day home/office delivery and returns. All of these require an element of “last mile” and quick access to customer markets which dictates a need for smaller satellite sheds in urban fringes being fed by large national or regional hubs located on strategic motorway junctions.

One of the major issues facing the market has been a lack of land supply in these urban and metropolitan fringe locations. The supply of employment land has been squeezed by other competing uses and particularly by residential use which has the advantage of a strong political will for more housing development nationally.

Securing strategic sites

This has played into the hands of the key logistics developers such as SEGRO, Goodman, ProLogis, IDI Gazeley and others who had the foresight to secure strategic sites throughout the national trunk road network and take these through the planning and enabling process. They are now well placed to respond rapidly to the evolving demands of occupiers. In previous development cycles there was vastly more speculative development undertaken, but scarred by the large number of buildings remaining void for years after the financial crash, the market, particularly in the 100,000 sq ft + bracket, is more of a build to suit one nowadays.

This has led to minimum lease lengths pushing out to 10 or 15 years, tenant incentives such as rent free shortening significantly and rents showing the most sustained period of growth ever recorded.

What’s next on the horizon for the market?……..greater automation including autonomous vehicles and drone deliveries….and perhaps underground sheds?

For any further information on the warehouse/distribution market, please contact Colin Steele.

“An investigation into investment schemes has harmed [the self-storage sector], but more mature investors aren’t spooked” – Andrew Stone, Property Week.

Property Week’s self-storage supplement looks into the image problem the sector has as The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigates aggressively sold self-storage investment schemes.

Rapleys’ Colin Steele, partner in the Industrial and Logistics team, comments in the article:

“Larger companies and more sophisticated financial investors are seeing past [the bad reputation]. They operate on a different set of models and calculations and they are looking at excellent returns.

In the long term, this will be a storm in a teacup. The longer-term strength of the industry is there for all to see. Self-storage sites can get up to 80% to 90% occupancy, offer strong visible cash flows and good yields and are recession resilient.

The main challenge facing the industry now is finding suitable sites.”

Read the full Property Week article online here.


Matt Greenaway, senior associate in the Rapleys Retail & Leisure Group, comments on food-to-go brands and drive-thru’s in the latest Trade Counter supplement of Property Week magazine.

“As versatile as they are, food-to-go brands do have certain preferences – units of around 1,000 sq ft are usually the best option for food-to-go brands.

Ideally, they prefer units in visible and accessible locations within estates where they can capitalise on visitors to the trade parks and passing customers, but we won’t see freestanding drive-thru restaurants and coffee shops included in many schemes unless they occupy the most prominent main-road fronting locations”.

He believes that in-line units or, more likely, pod units, where landlords can generate attractive rents from small spaces, will become more common.

Read the full Property Week article online here.

Although the majority of the delayed Queen’s Speech, and the media coverage of it, was predictably focused on Brexit, some development related matters were squeezed in.


Readers may recall that the Housing White Paper, published in February, identified the nation’s “broken” housing market as one of the “greatest barriers to progress” in Britain today. Notwithstanding this, the need for more homes was restricted to one passing reference in the speech, as an add-on to non-development related property reforms.

There is a commitment to delivering the reforms proposed in the White Paper, but this is only outlined on two thirds of a page towards the end of the background notes of the speech. There is little detail about how this is to be achieved, except for an implication that any initiatives will be pursued through non-legislative means.

Roadside development

In contrast to fixing the housing market, encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles is considered by the Government to be worthy of new legislation. The thinking behind this is perhaps difficult to argue with, but a part of the proposal is a requirement for motorway service areas (MSAs) and “large fuel retailers” to provide electric vehicle charge points.

Most MSAs have already installed charging points, but the vagueness of, and the potential financial burden arising from, the second category of facilities has already caused some concern in the industry. If “large fuel retailers” refers to operators, rather than individual facilities themselves, this could have a significant and detrimental impact on smaller and tighter sites, as few amenities can be offered whilst charging takes place, and space is already at a premium.


Also benefiting from its own bill is the next stage of the HS2 link between Birmingham and Crewe. The bill will include details relative to compulsory purchase of the land required to deliver it, as well as granting deemed planning permission to deliver the scheme (with the details to be developed in coordination with the relevant local authorities).


Although most recognise that Brexit will consume much of the Government’s time over the coming years, the Queen’s Speech suggests that development is now quite low on its list of priorities. This is particularly true of housing, which the Government itself has identified as one of the largest matters that Britain needs to address. If this is the case, at the very least one can anticipate a continued gap between development pressure and local appetite (in much of the country) for it.

As ever, time will tell – Rapleys will continue to keep a close eye on the situation, and keep you informed of developments as they emerge.

~ Jason Lowes

Property Week 14/02/2017

These days even die-hard Luddites are shopping on their smartphones. Technology is transforming the way people buy goods and that is transforming the logistics sector.

Rapleys Partner Colin Steele looks comments on how the logistics sector is becoming increasingly affected by technology and how the industry is reacting to these changes.

To read the full article please click here

Drive-thrus started life in the USA in the 1940s, but they still feel like a relatively new concept in the UK.

However, the rising demand for and value of prime roadside sites suggests that the format is now well established here.

Most often associated with fast food chains – McDonalds opened its first drive-thru in 1975, the year after it opened its first “In-line” restaurant in the UK – it’s the coffee chains that have been leading the charge in recent years. Starbucks is understood to be close to having 200 drive-thrus in the UK. Costa currently has around 40, but has ambitions to triple that.

Established grab-and-go players such as McDonalds, KFC and Burger King now vie for sites – and customers – not just with coffee houses, but a wide range of new entrants to the quick service restaurant sector such as the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons, who provide an all day food and coffee offer that sits alongside both the coffee and fast food operations.

Global brands such as Taco Bell and Krispy Kreme have also bought in to the roadside/drive-thru concept.

New industries

There is even interest from outside the food and drink sector from the likes of financial services firm Metro Bank, which opened its first drive-thru in Slough in 2013, allowing customers to drive up to the bank and carry out transactions without leaving their vehicles.

Whether the idea will catch on with other banks – or even dry cleaners (Johnsons have dipped a toe in the market) and other businesses – remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the increasing number of businesses eyeing the drive-thru arena will affect the market as the supply of prime sites on busy road networks shrinks.

The change in demand

Historically, operators have favoured footprints of 1,800-2,500 sq. ft. All the drive-thru operators of course provide a sit-in option, which at the larger end of the requirement scale mean that site requirements can be as much as half an acre when you take into account drive-thru lanes and parking.

The lack of site options means operators are being forced to adapt their requirements – by squeezing on to smaller sites or buildings over two storeys.

Traditionally, coffee outlets have tended to prefer sites which are inbound to cities, so people can grab a drink and a snack on the way to work, while food outlets prefer an outbound site so that people can grab a ‘take out’ on their way home. Again, this model is already being compromised by space constraints.

The best sites provide a high volume of traffic flow, prominent positioning and good access points. There may also be additional sales drivers nearby – such as office and business parks, leisure centres, trade parks or hotels.

Generally, demand is such that the best sites may be attracting rental income in excess of £30 per square foot, which can make the market very attractive for landowners.

Drive-thrus will also look different in the future, as clever design is used to compensate for the pressure on space, but their continued success is assured: time pressures and the need for convenient solutions will continue to drive demand.

Rapleys provides comprehensive advice on drive-thrus and the wider retail and leisure market. For more information please contact Alfred Bartlett. 


Rapleys is pleased to share some of our most recent agency transactions in our latest newsletter.

We are also happy to share some of our currently available properties. A full list of our properties can be found in the property section of our website. Please get in touch if you require more information on any of our available properties.

To view our latest newsletter in full, please click here.


The Chancellor presented the Autumn Statement on  Wednesday 23 November with some announcements impacting the property and development markets. Rapleys wraps up the key points below.

Despite including housing in one of the four key areas to be targeted by the £23bn of spending generated from the NPIF to 2021/22, the Statement failed to deliver a silver bullet for housing delivery. We will await the much anticipated Housing White Paper to deliver the detail.

The focus on investment in traditional and technological infrastructure is, however, welcomed. It is often these areas which act as ‘pinch points’ in themselves for both economic and residential development capacity. The commitment of £2.3bn investment in infrastructure to unlock potential for 100,00 new homes in areas of high demand, can only be welcomed as a fiscal aid to support viability. However, it’s questionable whether the proposed £23,000 per plot is an efficient approach.

Similarly, the support to increase affordable housing delivery is much needed but there was an absence of detail in how this will represent an effective approach in light of the 1m home target over the parliament, which is well short of its objective.

Of potential significance is the commitment to relax restrictions on government grants to allow providers to deliver a wider range of housing, which could translate into a stimulus in starter home delivery and Private Rented Sector accommodation.

However, it is the commitment to the balance of budget and investment, with focus on new infrastructure delivery to provide an environment to support economic and residential growth which will be the headline of the statement for the development industry, alongside the requirement for Local Councils to make tough decisions on the location of development.
Ben Read | 07747 757639


The Chancellor’s announcements in relation to the housing market appear to be shifting away from the previous Chancellor’s almost entire focus on home ownership, to a more balanced housing market. The RICS have reacted positively to the announcements on increased investment for affordable housing, particularly for affordable rent.

Alongside the £2.3bn to be spent on infrastructure, the government also committed to an additional £1.4bn to be spent on affordable housing, which is in addition to the £4.7bn that was previously announced. The money will help fund an additional 40,000affordable homes. The Government has also lifted the restrictions limiting the funding to homeownership products. This is a clear indication of a shift back towards a more balanced housing market to take into account the decline in home ownership and increasing importance of good quality rental stock.
Nick Fell | 07964 558697


Business Rates
For business rates, there were limited announcements from the Chancellor. The most revealing announcement was confirmation that rates bills will go up by a maximum of 43% year on year in 2017/18, and a further 32% the year after for those RVs over £100,000. These were pitched as a saving from 45% and 50% respectively, but these were figures out to consultation only and still represent increases more than 20 times the current rate of inflation—once again leaving businesses short changed.

He confirmed a previously announced scheme offering rate relief to the hard pressed Oil and Gas exploration sector, and a doubling of Rural Rate Relief to 100% from 50%. The announcement that new fibre optic broadband infrastructure will benefit from 100% relief for 5 years will benefit BT Openreach significantly, but very few others.
Alan Watson | 07917 352428


Business Space
The continued focus of the Autumn Statement on the development of housing indicates that the trend of existing office and industrial floorspace and land supply being lost to residential use is set to continue. The consequence will be growth in office and industrial land prices and a strong growth in rents.
Colin Steele | 07860 749034


The key impact to the Scottish market will come via the City Deal funding announcement which will bring economic growth and development to infrastructure and strategic projects. A City Deal agreement for Edinburgh is confirmed, proposals from Perth and Dundee are being considered and talks will begin shortly on Stirling.

The Chancellor stating that every city in Scotland will be on course for a City Deal gives local areas greater powers and freedoms to help support economic growth, create jobs or invest in local projects.
Neil Gray | 07467 955228


Property Management
The Chancellor stated that insurance premium tax (standard rate) will increase from 10% to 12% which will see this type of tax doubling within 2 years. This will lead to additional expenditure on buildings insurance and we expect those with large property portfolios to be significantly hit.

The announced increase in the national living wage to £7.50 from April 2017 will also cause an impact to property management costs as it is highly likely that we will see contractors (receptionist, security, landscaping providers etc) passing this cost onto their customers meaning landlords and tenants should prepare themselves for increased service charge budgets and expenditure.

However, the Carbon Price Support will be capped to 2020 which should reduce the increase seen on energy bills for end consumers, helping reduce the expenditure seen on utilities.
Mark Coles | 07785 522956

Please contact a member of the team if you would like more information on the Autumn Statement and the impact it may have on your property or portfolio.

Brexit: an event that, at the time, felt a little as if the world was about to end. We are nearly 5 months on from 25 June 2016 and whilst turmoil in foreign exchange continues with the pound predicted by some to reach parity with the Euro over the next few months, the FTSE has reached a record high.

However, so far there appears to have been little effect in the automotive sector with both corporate and property deals continuing with some high profile (and costly) examples including:

  • Kia opening Europe’s largest dealership in Brentford
  • Dick Lovett opening a 25 car Aston Martin showroom in Bristol
  • Peter Vardy opening a new Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Aberdeen
  • Arnold Clark opening the UK’s largest Hyundai dealership in Glasgow

Of course these deals will have been planned and financed well in advance of the Brexit date but during the preceding period of uncertainty, the strength of the UK economy appears to have vindicated those approving these high profile deals. Indeed further significant developments are continuing to be announced post-Brexit including:

  • JCT obtaining planning consent for a new Mercedes-Benz dealership in Harrogate
  • Swansway announcing plans for a new Jaguar dealership in Crewe
  • Arnold Clark planning a new Motorstore in Nottingham
  • Inchcape announcing plans for a new Audi dealership in Bolton

Furthermore, since our last automotive update, the sector has seen the largest corporate acquisition for 10 years with Marshall Motor Holdings acquiring Ridgeway for £106.9m to become the 7th largest group in the UK; an acquisition where Rapleys was appointed to advise on the property elements of the acquisition.  There have also been a number of others, both pre and post Brexit, including:

  • Lookers acquire Drayton Group for £55.4m (July)
  • Lookers acquire Knights Group for £27.2m (August)
  • Jardine Motors acquire Colliers Motor Group (June)
  • Vertu acquires Gordon Lamb for £18.7m (June)

It remains to be seen what impact Brexit will have as Article 50 has yet to be exercised and, given recent court rulings, there is uncertainty as to whether the Government can make this decision without the support of Parliament. Many groups are yet to report their half year results although market sentiment has, so far, generally been positive. It seems as if most in the sector remain confident about the state of the UK economy and that confidence has translated into investment in the sector at a time when the temptation might have been to “sit tight”. It is, however, widely anticipated that Article 50 will be exercised in the first half of 2017 and, if this is the case, we will be in for another round of uncertainty next year.



Rapleys has arrived in Birmingham! In May, Rapleys opened its  sixth office, moving into Birmingham for the first time following the acquisition of Bartlett Property. Led by Alfred Bartlett, the team is growing and will become a significant player in the West Midlands property market over the coming years, offering the full range of Rapleys’ services.

It is a home coming as well as being business as usual for Alfred Bartlett. He first joined Rapleys 25 years ago and left to work in Birmingham. Now back together, Rapleys’ Birmingham office under the leadership of Bartlett, continues to advise on retail and leisure developments across the region. Bartlett’s team in Birmingham has been strengthened with the recent addition of Matt Greenaway as Senior Associate from Bilfinger GVA and Charlie Steele, Surveyor from Steeles Estate Agents.

Matt and Charlie, along with Alfred, will focus on sourcing and bringing both city centre and out of town retail, supermarket, restaurant and mixed use schemes forward and have hit the ground running with some notable instructions including:

  • Advising on two mixed retail student accommodation developments in Edgbaston
  • A retail development for Co-op, close to the city centre
  • A new mixed use development with Marks & Spencer and further retail in Moseley
  • Redevelopment and letting of an existing retail park in Brierley Hill

The team is actively on the lookout for development opportunities for occupiers and developer clients and is also instructed on a number of retail, leisure and development site disposals.

Rapleys is looking to expand its Birmingham office to provide a full service offering including planning, building surveying and project management, office and industrial agency, investment consultancy and rating.

For the time being the Rapleys team is focused on establishing the office as a hub of excellence for Birmingham’s flourishing city centre developments, to provide both developers and occupiers with expert advice to take advantage of the opportunities available during this renaissance that Birmingham is currently experiencing.

Please contact Alfred Bartlett alfred.bartlett@rapleys.com or Matt Greenaway matt.greenaway@rapleys.com for further information or details on how we may assist you with any retail, leisure or roadside opportunities.




Rapleys has advised Marshall Motor Holdings plc (MMH) regarding their acquisition of Ridgeway Garages for £106.9m.

The Rapleys team, led by partner Phil Blackford, provided strategic valuation and property advice to MMH, one of the UK’s leading automotive retail and leasing groups, as part of the due diligence process. Ridgeway is a multi-franchise dealer group operating across the affluent southern home counties of England, Wiltshire and Dorset, representing 12 brands via 30 franchised dealerships.

Described by the company as a ‘truly transformational’ transaction, the strategic acquisition means that MMH will move from 10th to the 7th largest motor dealer group in the UK. The deal was completed on 26 May.

Phil Blackford, partner and head of Rapleys automotive and roadside team, said:

“We are delighted to be asked to assist the MMH acquisition team in providing strategic valuation and property advice as part of the due diligence process. This proved to be an important part of the process, given that the aggregate property value accounted for approximately 50% of the acquisition price.”

Daksh Gupta, chief executive of Marshall Motor Holdings plc, added:

“We chose Rapleys to advise us on the transformational acquisition of Ridgeway due to their track record in the space. We needed confidentiality, expediency, expertise and professionalism, and Rapleys delivered. Thank you Phil Blackford and team Rapleys.”

Two main issues dominated the news headlines in 2015, one positive and one negative.

The first was the VW emissions scandal which first reared its head in September, the full effects of which are yet to be felt. It is likely that the impact of this in practical terms will not be felt for some time as the true cost to the company emerges. However, the first negative effects were realised in November as used car sales for VW brands fell by 20% whereas the overall used car market improved by 3.8%. Headlines continue to be negative with the US President of VW resigning earlier this month.

The second, was that the used car market and new car registrations reached a record breaking 2.63m, beating the previous record of 2.58m in 2003, after 43 months of consecutive growth. Many in the sector believe 2016 could see a new high for registrations and we believe this will positivity fuel demand for new sites and premises. However, a slowdown in the housing market is what many in the sector want as numerous requirements cannot be satisfied owing to higher alternative use values, particularly for residential.

There have been a few high profile business acquisitions in the last few months of 2015/start of 2016 which has consolidated the sector even further. Those of particular note are as follows:

  • Vertu acquired Greenoaks Mercedes-Benz who have dealerships in Reading, Ascot and Slough.
  • Group 1 acquired Spire Automotive, a 12 dealership group.
  • Marshall Motor Group acquired SG Smith in November for £24.4m. They represent a number of VWG brands in South London.
  • Lookers acquired Benfield in September for £87.5m. They trade 30 dealerships across Northern England.
  • Vantage acquired Toyota/Lexus in Leeds/Wakefield for £12.7m
  • Eden Motor Group acquired Wokingham Motors who represent Vauxhall, Mazda, Fiat and Hyundai in the town.

It is common knowledge in the market that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is seeking to redefine their market areas at the same time as enhancing their retail network. This has led to many business and property transactions involving the two brands and we highlight a few below:

  • Rybrook buy Jaguar/Land Rover businesses in Huddersfield from Perrys.
  • Cambria acquires Land Rover in Welwyn Garden City from Jardine for £10.8m.
  • Ridgeway announce plans for a new Jaguar/Land Rover facility in Oxford at Milton Gate.
  • Charles Hurst opens a new Jaguar/Land Rover facility in Belfast.
  • Inchcape acquire Land Rover in York from Armstrong Massey.
  • Lookers buy Amersham Jaguar from Jardine.

It certainly seems as if JLR are the major brand leading the quest for new and improved premises although many other, particularly premium, brands continue to dictate their requirements to dealers. We see no signs of this activity diminishing through 2016 as car sales figures continue to improve.

To view this as a PDF please click the link adjacent.