North Laine - victim of its own success?

Photo:Tim Price

Tim Price

More London-based chain stores moving in

By Tim Price, North Laine trader

Latest TV recently approached us with regard to our concerns that the North Laine could become a victim of its own success (see article and video on Latest TV website here).

Lesser known chain stores moving in

As a long established North Laine business (20 years) we have seen many shops come and go but in recent years, partly due to our unsuccessful efforts to expand within the area, we have been aware of the influx of a good number of, albeit the less well known, chain stores. Aside from the obvious coffee outlets such as the Costas, Starbucks and Nero we now see the introduction of the Joy store, Oliver Bonas, JoJo Maman Bebe, Bubble Tea, ChrisElli, the Gourmet Burger Co etc.

Replaced by another London-based chain store

A rather sad letter from the owner of the recently vacated PeeWees hairdressing salon in Kensington Gardens displayed on the shop's window for a while seemed, in my opinion, to hit the nail on the head. In it he explained that his rent had been raised to such a level, after many years in the same location, that he was unwilling to struggle on paying what he considered to be an unsustainable rent after yet another increase. Sure enough, a short while later, the shop is being refitted for another London based chain store. It seems that only these larger businesses will consider the rents now being asked in the North Laine's units. (How long they will 'tough it out' before realising that these rents are not realistic is another matter.)

Are entrepreneurial individuals being squeezed out?

David Sewell, Chair of the North Laine Community Association, in the Latest  TV article and video dismisses the idea that the North Laine is being taken over by chain stores and does not see there to be a problem within the next 5-10 year period. Perhaps he is right but my concern is that the 'upward only' rents (and consequently business rates) will begin to rise at a faster rate as each new tenancy sees a surge in rental costs once they become the norm. The high rents along with the huge premiums now being asked will eventually ensure that entrepreneurial individuals will not even be able to get a look in and we shall end up with a very bland North Laine.

 

[Also published in the North Laine Runner, No 230, September/October 2014]

 

This page was added on 21/09/2014.
Comments/reviews:

Very interested to read this. Knew about the coffee chains of course but wasn't aware that all these other shops were London-based chains too! Just thought they were local independent traders like the author of the above piece. I wonder how many others are like me - not realising what is really going on....

By Jack
On 13/10/2014

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