Q&A with Andrew Shepherd, Director at 'AS Retail'
Name: Andrew Shepherd
Title: Founder & Director
Company: AS Retail
Who are AS Retail?
AS Retail is now three years old and comprises a team of five people including fellow Director Rob Jones who joined in 2017 from CBRE. We provide advice within the retail and leisure sector to occupiers and landlords on their high street and shopping centre portfolios UK wide, spanning the core interlinked disciplines of agency, lease advisory and investment functions.
Who do AS Retail currently act for?
On the landlord side we advise on a number of major clients such as Royal London Asset Management (RLAM), Rockspring Property Investment Managers, Knight Frank Investment Management and Edinburgh House Estates.
On the occupational side we are advising Arcadia, Cards Direct, BoConcept, Starbucks, Mountain Warehouse, Jetts Fitness, Quiznos and Hotshots Barbers to name a few on existing and new sites.
In addition, I am particularly exciting to be representing CycleBar, the world's largest indoor cycling studio chain with over 100 studios in the USA and Canada, in their entry to and expansion within the UK.
Recent acquisitions or acquisitions in the pipeline?
We are delighted to have acquired a new store for Mountain Warehouse in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire -- both mine and Rob's home town - at the end of 2017 after a competitive bidding situation and which satisfies a long-running requirement for them in a tight market.
On behalf of CycleBar we are also very close to exchanging contracts on the first European site which is circa 3,000 sq ft within an iconic London development and can't wait to see it open around Easter. A national roll out to over 50 sites in the next few years planned which will be mainly focussed in out of town and shopping park locations.
We are also advising Jetts Fitness in the acquisition of their first London site in South West London with opening again scheduled for around Easter.
In addition, on behalf of BoConcept we are just about to complete the acquisition of their new Bristol showroom on Merchant Street opposite the new TK Maxx. This follows up recent acquisitions for the brand in Chichester, Canterbury and Edinburgh in the last 12 months and we have a number of target locations for showroom acquisitions in the next three years.
We acquired 8 stores in 2017 for Cards Direct including locations such as Romford, Huntingdon, Northampton, Redhill and Worthing taking their portfolio to 23 stores with a further one exchanged and one under offer. They are very good people with an excellent retail proposition and plan to open a further 8-12 sites in 2018 then continue a steady roll out over the next few years. I leased them their pilot store in 2012 and have worked closely with them ever since in shaping the portfolio, providing general property and retail advice and acted on the acquisition of each new unit since.
We are delighted to welcome Claudio Palmiero to the team. Claudio joined us at the end of 2017 as a graduate surveyor having completed his studies at Nottingham Trent University. He spent his year out working within the property team at Ladbrokes and will be assisting Rob and I on leasing and acquisition instructions.
What are the main challenges you face when acquiring new property?
Our occupational clients are becoming increasingly specific about what they need out of a new site as experience shows that deviations away from the optimum can have a significantly negative impact on performance. This makes finding suitable sites a real challenge as retail properties come in all different shapes and sizes -- some compromise is inevitable in most cases but the level of that compromise is always subject to debate.
Finding the combination then of the right size and shape, location and cost base / deal terms makes being an acquisition agent a challenge, even when on the face of it there is quite a lot of stock available.
Favourite occupier and why?
Tough one as there are so many options but I'm going to say John Lewis Partnership - I'm a bit of a creature of habit and I know what I like. Department Stores slightly terrify me but at John Lewis on Oxford Street I know where the departments I want are - gadgets, sports, fashion, kids, gifts, sports etc so don't spend hours getting lost. The range and quality of the products is great in the Department Stores but also within Waitrose where we often pick up bits of shopping. The added benefit and the clincher is the Click and Collect service which is very convenient. My wife and I are both time poor with us both running businesses and having two young children so it's easy to buy on-line and collect at the local Waitrose to fit around our schedules.
What is your favourite building?
Again lots of choices and I've been lucky enough to visit some amazing places like Rome, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Shanghai but we are spoilt for fantastic buildings in London and I'm going to go for St Pancras Station. The front of the building is just stunning and the transformation of the main concourse over the last few years has been superb. A fantastic gateway to London for people visiting and a nice place to spend a bit of time before the train out of town.
Favourite retail or leisure destination?
I love Old Spitalfields Market and the surrounding area.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel - 020 7287 2155
Twitter handle - @as_retail