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Norfolk estate agents suffering on the high street

PUBLISHED: 17:09 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:20 30 May 2019

Estate agency was the worst hit business last year according to a new report. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Estate agency was the worst hit business last year according to a new report. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Estate agents suffered the most closures in 2018 with almost 300 branches shutting down nationwide - including firms in Norfolk.

Bucking the trend: Lucy Headland has just opened Pendeford's Individual Property Specialists. Pic: Pendefords.Bucking the trend: Lucy Headland has just opened Pendeford's Individual Property Specialists. Pic: Pendefords.

New figures just released show 284 estate agents' offices shut down last year, 3.4% of the total number in Britain.

This was more than newsagents, women's fashion stores, delis, hairdressers, Indian restaurants and florists.

In total more than 1,000 entire brands disappeared from the UK's beleaguered high street.

MORE: Why Norfolk bosses say you should not be putting a kiss on your work emails

Locally last year one of the biggest estate agency casualties among others was Kudos Residential - trading as Hunters - which went into liquidation shutting its offices in Norwich, Poringland, Long Stratton, Brundall, Bungay, Diss, Gorleston and Yarmouth.

However, one estate agent who used to work at Hunters, Lucy Headland, is bucking the trend and has just opened up her own independent agency, Pendefords, focusing on helping sell homes in the NR11, NR12 and NR13 postcode areas.

This agency aims to offer a different service from the norm, with Lucy offering all kinds of extra help in selling and marketing homes for sale, which even includes turning up early for the taking of photos for the particulars and helping get the house ship-shape.

"I took a year out but really missed estate agency," said Lucy, who runs the business from home, visiting clients rather than having the overheads of a high street office.

"I think people want something different, my agency is aimed at fitting in with people's busy lives and giving people the time and one point of contact."

The retail report, which reviewed changes across more than 313,000 businesses across Britain found that overall, independent retailers still opened 4.5% more shops in 2018 than in 2017.

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To blame for the closures were business rates which continued to be "a huge burden," according to the report by the Local Data Company, LDC, which supplies market research to the retail sector. The lack of parking in town centres, which has also become very expensive, was also said to be a factor. Only this week, this newspaper reported on tearoom the Pretty Little Teashop in King's Lynn closing with the owner citing the lack of parking as a cause.

The report also blamed poor infrastructure in many retail centres and 'a lack of local authority vision and investment.'

"Last year saw many well-known brands exit the high street and rationalise estates of bricks and mortar stores. A by-product of this activity was a plethora of units in prime locations coming into the market, which agile entrepreneurs have been quick to reoccupy," said LDC spokesperson Lucy Stainton.

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