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Property:                             65 Manor Way, Deeping St James, Lincolnshire

Description:                       Ground floor, lock-up shop of 572 sq ft (approx 54 sq m) with A3/A5 retail consent

Instruction:                        To let on a new lease/For sale with vacant possession on completion

Client:                                  Acting on behalf of a private owner-landlord

New occupier:                  Rob Johnson, owner, proprietor & head chef

Deal completed:              October 2017

What drove the successful conclusion of this Peterborough office instruction was demonstrating that covenant strength is as much about protecting the long term value of the landlord’s property investment as it is about proving the tenant can pay the monthly bills.

Barker Storey Matthews had acted for the landlord on the previous two lettings of the property - the immediate past use had been as a local café/diner.  The landlord is a private owner with a few property holdings elsewhere and for whom income is important.

In a market town and on a local parade of shops serving a residential neighbourhood, the property was always going to attract local interest and the attendant assumption of low covenant strength in any potential tenant interest.

The premises had twice been under offer during an eight month marketing period but both interests had fallen through for different, non-property, reasons.

Serious local interest came in the form of Rob Johnson who passed the property regularly as he walked through the town.

Rob Johnson had been head chef for seven years at the town’s Waterton Arms.  In the summer of 2017, he was at a stage in his life and in a financial position to pursue what is surely most talented head chefs’ dream: to establish and run his own restaurant.

Interest was registered and lease negotiations began.  There is a risk for a landlord in running with a start-up business as a tenant.  But Julian Welch, Barker Storey Matthews Peterborough office’s specialist agent in the leisure and retail sector, on seeing Rob Johnson’s commitment and favourable financial position, picked up the reins, led the instruction and convinced the landlord of the viability and value of the business vision for Driftwood Bistro.

Julian Welch was able to convince the landlord because, after years of agency working with landlords and operators in the sector in the region, he could see that not only Rob Johnson’s business proposition was viable but that the local entreprenuer’s drive and motivation would add value to covenant strength in maintaining and, in all likelihood, enhancing the landlord’s long term property investment.

Rob Johnson admits he benefitted from Barker Storey Matthews’ agency skills in a way he never expected to from a party instructed on behalf of the landlord. 

The Professional respect between agent and applicant meant that Rob was confident enough to work through lease negotiations with Julian to the point where he didn’t feel the need to instruct his own solicitor.

From getting the keys in the October to opening for business in December 2017 to capitalise on the crucial Christmas trading period – after a full-on refurbishment and fit-out which was a family affair – the story of Driftwood Bistro in its first year is one of success. 

Rob and his team have worked hard.  And now have not only a successful local, neighbourhood bistro but also a well-regarded, high quality menu and dining experience. 

Driftwood Bistro’s reputation is attracting critical acclaim further afield judging by Trip Advisor  reviews and its local business and restaurant of the year award nomination status. 

In September 2018, within a year of first opening its doors to its first diners, Driftwood Bistro was presented with the accolade of Best New Business by The Deepings Business Club in its annual awards scheme.

For Barker Storey Matthews, the skill of agency is about the right tenant for the right property.  It’s about being aware of the local market, the nuances of the local economy, the gaps in the market and, in some cases, realising that sensible applicants need a bit of hand-holding and guidance from time to time.

We will always act in our clients’ interest.  With independent operators and, especially, with start-up businesses, that involves being convinced by tenants’ drive, commitment and ability to see their business vision through.  Then having the experience and commercial property nous to know it’s an occupier who will serve the landlord’s best interests in the prevailing market conditions.

For more information about retail and restaurant property opportunities, contact Julian Welch on 01733 897722, jw@bsm.uk.com.