Retail lettings in Reading town centre are continuing amid nervousness over world events.

Fiona Brownfoot, retail director at Hicks Baker, said several were completed in Reading town centre deals last year and many are in the pipeline in 2022.

But she reports the first signs of hesitancy over national and global crises.

She told Thames Tap: “I lost a deal in Windsor last week from a food operator because they just felt that world events, and the implications thereof, were making them sufficiently nervous about spending £300,000 or £400,000 on the fit out.

“It’s the first time I’ve had someone pull out of a deal because of the impact of all the various things, the cost of living, National Insurance and implications of the Ukraine situation.

“They just felt the indicators were not in the right place for them to want to carry on.

“There is a concern over how much consumer confidence is going to be negatively affected by the increased cost of living.”

However, she has reported a number of completed and potential deals around the town centre. They include:

  • New bubble tea operators are taking space at 14 West Street and in a unit in Chain Street (opposite the side entrance to John Lewis).
  • An axe-throwing bar operator is looking for space in addition to Doom Battle Bar which has long had an interest in the former Lakeland unit in The Oracle.
  • An edge-of-town unit is under offer to a bowling alley operator
  • The former Jamie’s Italian unit at The Oracle is under offer to restaurant operator D&D.
  • Sushi operator Wasabi has applied for planning consent to turn the former Carphone Warehouse unit in Broad Street into a restaurant

The deals and potential deals come on top of a host of lettings last year, as detailed in Hicks Baker’s latest retail commentary for Q1, 2022. These include:

  • Costa into 99 Broad Street
  • Deichman Shoes into the former Next unit in Broad Street
  • Jollibee into 81 Broad Street
  • Biscuit Factory cinema into Broad Street Mall
  • Thai Grr! into a newly created unit in Queens Walk
  • Black Sheep into the former Caffe Nero on the corner of Queen Victoria Street and Friar Street
  • Coconut Tree into the former Zizzi in King’s Road
  • Doner & Gyros into the former China Palace in Broad Street Mall
  • Street Burger into the former Giraffe restaurant in The Oracle

Ms Brownfoot said there is no shortage of operators in certain sectors. Restaurants are strong again since many have set up delivery systems to fall back on and dark kitchens where restaurant brands make and deliver their takeaways from, while on-demand grocery services like Beelivery, Getir and Gorillas have helped create demand.

She added: “At the moment we are just sitting there thinking ‘what is the impact (of major events) going to be?’ We are in that fluid, uncertain phase. People are saying they will just wait and see but that is the sensible thing to do.”

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap journal here.