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Coventry indies fear rent hike will drive them out

Coventry council has moved to reassure independent retailers that rents will be affordable in its £1bn redevelopment of the city centre.

Indies in the city had feared that rents would treble after a report published by property consultant GVA Grimley said average rental income in the redeveloped area could rise from £40 per sq ft to
£160 per sq ft.

The development – to the south of Coventry’s upper and lower precincts – will affect about 50 retailers.

John McGuigan, the council’s director for city development, said: “We are keen to reassure independent retailers that we want them to remain very much part of the mix. As with any thriving city centre, there needs to be a mix of high street shops and specialists to draw in shoppers.”

He added that rents in the redeveloped scheme would be flexible. “In reality, the rental level can only be what can be afforded, and we will explore different types of leases such as turnover-based rents.”

The development will include Market Way, City Arcade, Barracks Car Park, Shelton Square and one half of Hertford Street.

Himal Patel, head of buying at menswear indie Label Clothing, on the lower precinct, said: “Rents have gone crazy over the past 10 years and now there are lots of empty shops, landlords should be encouraging independents to trade.”

He said his store – which stocks brands such as Y3, Stone Island,  Diesel and True Religion – had only signed a five-year lease and that he would leave the area if rents were hiked.

Ying Duan, owner of fashion accessories shop Miss Rush, said the council should pay indies to relocate if they want to redevelop the area. “I’m a successful business but I can’t afford to pay any more rent,” she said.

However, McGuigan argued that Coventry was “not a successful city centre” in its current format, despite being the UK’s ninth largest city, and that the redevelopment would attract more shoppers to the area, which would mean “more income for all the retailers”.

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