Overseas retailers heading for ‘Pana’

A turnaround in the fortunes and occupancy levels of Cork city’s premier retail boulevard Patrick Street is predicted in the next year, with significant national international brand names set to arrive and take significant floor space.

However, the new arrivals will also see further evidence of a two-tier retail market, with new traders on significantly better rent terms, admits director of Savills’ Cork office, Peter O’Meara.

“We expect a number of high-order retailers to rejuvenate the street this year,” Mr O’Meara says, reporting that international retailers are once more beginning to focus their attention on prime locations in Cork city centre. The last big burst was the opening of Opera Lane, which breathed new energy and footfall in the centre of St Patrick’s Street over five years ago.

Now, Savills says the former Mothercare building at 74/75 (vacant for around two years) is under offer, and report sale agreed terms on the other end of the street at No 127, next to Black Tie, for over €515,000, which will let for between €40,000 and €45,000.

Savills’ Leigh Hegarty has 43/44 Patrick Street (previously Wallis) up to let in the past month, jointly with JLL, guiding €300,000 pa with a very usable 3,100 sq ft at ground, and the upper level vacated by restaurant China Gold. It's expected to find a new occupier very swiftly.

Savills have also started marketing 89/90 Patrick Street, the former Moderne which sold to a Dublin investor earlier this year for over €4.5 million. It has 15,000 sq ft in all, with a retail area over the first two floors of approximately 9,000 sq ft, and is expected to command a rent of between €400,000 and €450,000 pa for the entire building. “We currently have strong international interest in the property,” say Savills, with fashion to the fore, and restaurants like Nandos and Starbucks possibly set to take the rear, French Church Street section.

It’s known that fashion group Inditex, whose brands include Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti (just opened on Grafton Street, Dublin) is currently scouting Cork city locations, due to visit several vacant Patrick Street shops next month.

Other names in the hat include Jack Wills, Mango, Laura Ashley (currently in Merchants Quay, with a lease expiring) a further Dealz inquiry, and Sketchers.

“Stabilisation has returned to the retail sector in Ireland and there is now a slow, but steady, improvement in trading conditions,” asserts Savills director Peter O’Meara. “This has not gone unnoticed – a number of international retailers have expressed an interest in several high-end retail units in the city centre and we expect to see a commitment from a number of them in the coming months.” The majority of vacant units on the street have been due to leases expiring, and “there is now the opportunity for retailers to take advantage of more attractive lease terms,” he observes.

“The current rate of vacancies would be a concern if there was nobody interested in taking the space. But with flexible leases now on offer, we are seeing top international brands showing a strong interest in what Cork has to offer. There’s a huge opportunity to attract new, high-level brands to the city.”

Evidence of the two-tier trading conditions may be seen when the Mothercare space at 74/75 is let, for between €200,000 and €250,000 pa. Mothercare had been paying circa €650,000 for this, and next door, Boots is tied into a long lease on a rent close to €700,000 pa.

* Details: Savills 021-4271371.


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