By Jack Walsh
COMMERCIAL property firms remain cautiously optimistic about the year ahead – stating that the licensed property sector is “robust enough” to handle the ongoing political uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Paul Hart of Inverness-based ASG Commercial described 2017 as a “bumper year” for the licensed property sector following an “upsurge” in tourism in the Highlands, and said the firm’s attitude “is one of positivity” for 2018.
“We see that there is undoubted uncertainty looming with regard to Brexit, etc. but we suspect that most industries within our sectors will be robust enough to deal with the change,” he said.
Additionally, the subsequent lowering in value of the pound due to Brexit has benefitted the licensed property sector, according to Gary Louttit of Shepherd Chartered Surveyors.
While he reckons that growth in Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) may slow in 2018, Louttit said the weakened Sterling should help the sector “defy much of the uncertainty arising as a result of Brexit”.
This was echoed by Robin Gower of Bruce & Co, who said the firm expects international buyer demand “to remain strong” due to the current lower value of the pound.
But Alan Goldie of The Restaurant Agency took a more cautious stance, warning that larger corporate operators could “find it increasingly [difficult] to employ overseas staff” as a result of Brexit.
He added that the political uncertainty also comes at a time when the independent pub market “is adjusting to an ever-increasing cost base”.
Peter Seymour of Graham & Sibbald, however, took a different position, stating that Brexit “has not really impacted the licensed trade and leisure market”, and “will only become an issue if the wider economy suffers from any fallout when the way the transition will happen becomes clear”.
Beyond Brexit, firms remain upbeat about the year ahead.
Seymour of Graham & Sibbald said “there is a will to do deals”, as lenders begin to increase the supply of funds available to operators.
And it is “of significance” that “an increasing number of sales values are surpassing the valuation levels” set by surveyors, said Hart of ASG Commercial.
Louttit of Shepherd Chartered Surveyors said: “We are very optimistic for 2018, and expect to see an increase in transitional activity and hopefully more confidence and certainty in the financial markets.”