Retail Property - Uniqlo sheds stores in an effort to slash property expenditure

Uniqlo has started to cut its property overheads, following its decision to close all but five of its UK stores. The 118 stores typically measure between 5,000 sq ft (465 sq m) and 6,000 sq ft (555 sq m), and have attracted strong interest from a range of retailers, with some stores going back to the landlords.

Two agents were given the disposal instruction, with FPDSavills taking the stores in the North and Midlands and Michael Peddar & Co those in the Southeast.

HMV has taken an assignment of the Uniqlo store at The Coliseum, Cheshire Oaks, Chester. Unit R6 comprised of 6,965 sq ft (645 sq m) of sales area on ground and mezzanine levels. It is held on a 15-year lease expiring in March 2017, at a passing rent of£165,000 a year. Strutt & Parker advised HMV.

In the south, Michael Peddar & Co is close to deals on seven of the eight stores it was handling in Staines, Romford, Chelmsford, Basingstoke, Brighton, Watford and Bromley.

Landlord Grosvenor is taking back the unit in Festival place, Basingstoke, and fashion operators have been lined up for most of the others.

The only store where terms have not been agreed is the branch in the Southside development in Wandsworth, where Uniqlo does not even take possession until next year.

'They (the stores) have gone well, fundamentally because they are good shops in good locations,' said James Hall, the surveyor handling the sales at Michael Peddar & Co.

'We certainly didn't over-pay when we took the stores,' he said. For example, the Wandsworth branch carries a rent of£150,000 for 6,500 sq ft (605 sq m).