Improvement: There are just two retail units vacant on Grafton Street – a figure mirrored at Henry Street, where vacancy figures have also significantly fallen

Dublin’s retail sector is showing signs of improvement with just two units vacant on Grafton Street, while Henry Street’s vacancy is also limited.
According to Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL’s) latest retail market report, the first quarter for 2014 is showing signs of improvement over the last six months with an increase in demand in both occupier and investment markets. Availability on Grafton Street numbers two units, a mirrored figure for Henry Street which also has two vacant units available.
Hannah Dwyer, head of research at JLL said: “Occupier demand remains focused on prime Dublin high streets and strong-performing shopping centre schemes, and there are now limited vacancies in these locations.
“As supply tightens, there has been evidence of some rental increases from recent lettings, particularly on Grafton Street which had a number of high-profile deals in the latter part of 2013 and more recently, the signing of Space NK on the former Body Shop unit.
“There is now limited occupier choice on Grafton Street, which has caused increased competition for units that come onto the market. Rents vary significantly by unit, even within the same scheme and depend on the level of fit out, fit-out quality, covenant strength and unit location,” she said.
Recent Grafton Street lettings include Ecco, which will occupy the former Korky’s store, Space NK is moving to the former Body Shop unit, The Body Shop has moved further down the street and opened next to McDonalds, while Levi’s has leased the former Monsoon unit.
Hannah added that: “The outlook for 2014 is a lot more stable than it has been for the last few years. Prime units are likely to remain the focus of demand. Tightening supply on prime high streets and prime schemes is likely to cause further rental growth in the next 12 months.”
Aebhric McGibney, director of public and international affairs, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said: “The turnaround in Grafton Street’s fortunes over the past year is to be welcomed.
“This time last year, much of the talk in retail was of store closures and examinerships, but in recent months we’ve seen a number of high profile traders take up units in the city centre.
“It is particularly encouraging to see several large multinational retailers opening up on Grafton Street, such as Massimo Dutti, Vans and Levi’s, while the return of HMV is also a major boost.”
The latest figures come as work on Grafton Street’s pedestrianised street continues. The project involves removing the old red brick surface and replacing it with pink and grey granite.
Work began in sections of the road last May and stopped over the Christmas period to facilitate the shopping period before starting again in January. Work on the new street layout is expected to last until September.
According to Aebhric: “There has been good engagement between Dublin City Council and local businesses throughout the re-paving process. This has helped to keep disruption to a minimum.
“At this stage, the majority of Grafton Street has now been repaved and the works are due to be completed in September this year. Businesses in and around Grafton Street realise that the works are a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.
“The street hadn’t been re-paved since the 1980s and a revamp was required and it’s great that this is now happening. The re-paving comes at a good time for Grafton Street and coincides with the current recovery being seen in the area.”

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