Having acted for many years in an agency capacity, Hartnell Taylor Cook was instructed in 1992 to manage a retail arcade located adjacent to the M&S store in Reading. From this first instruction our role and relationship has grown exponentially to the point that HTC now provides a full range of management and advisory services across the UK.
The portfolio includes a full range of properties in all conditions from prime stores through to secondary corner shops all located across the UK. This includes the management of non-operational, tenanted accommodation which includes some 50 properties nationwide, including retail units, offices and car parks, all of which are generally surplus to the retailer’s needs. The management of six retail parks including several leading M&S stores nationwide. The six sites are owned jointly by M&S and either Tesco or Asda and the majority are over 25 years old, which brings a different set of management and maintenance challenges. In 2018 a number of stores were closed nationwide as part of an on-going programme of change with HTC managing the void and closure process. Finally, the management of the iconic M&S store located in Market Street, Manchester and the adjacent Selfridges store which totals circa 300,000 sq ft. In the past 25 years the retail marketplace has undergone a revolution and like all retailers M&S has had to adapt to these changes. As their advisors, so too has HTC and this has had a significant impact on the service that has been provided.
The Property and Asset Management team has taken a proactive approach to the management of the various parts of the portfolios. Regular meetings are held with the client’s Estate Management team to review and advise on the portfolio, as well as daily contact with M&S store managers, contractors and legal representatives, among others. As many of the non-operational properties are close to a main M&S store, the management strategy has been carefully considered and executed to ensure that not only is there no detrimental effect on M&S’s trading position but it enhances the value and reputation for M&S. As the joint venture retail parks age the challenge is for them to remain sharp and contemporary in their appearance as well as maintaining the efficient day to day operation. The on-site centre manager works closely with the retailers and the management team reviewing the need for refurbishment and repair programmes and achieving these with minimal impact on the running of the park. The recent closure of operational stores and management of the void areas has introduced a series of management challenges. The team has to work closely with the various departments within M&S to ensure the vacation and handover runs smoothly, swiftly and the necessary security put in place as well as the on-going maintenance of the store to help keep costs to a minimum. The flagship store in Manchester shares its services and common parts with Selfridges, and the strategy put in place here ensures costs and maintenance is to the benefit of both retailers.
Over the course of many years, HTC’s Property Management team has proved their ability to understand M&S’s business objectives and provide a service that meets their needs with efficiency. A strong working relationship has been forged and HTC is now the first port of call for M&S if surplus property becomes available. Off the back of the strong management offering, M&S also appoints HTC for agency, facilities management, building consultancy and significantly, lease advisory services on major rent reviews/lease renewals on their department stores including some of their largest stores, offices and Simply Food stores.
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