NovaLoca have been looking over the past year into the revitalisation of Scottish town centres through the Scottish Governments “Town Centre Action Plan”.
To see what life has been like for commercial agents based in these towns, they have interviewed some of the key players.
Smart & Co were delighted to be approached to find out what business has been like so far this year. Comrie is a small but beautiful village in Perthshire which lies on the banks of the River Earn nestled on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. Here’s what Doug had to say...
What has business been like for Smart & Co in 2016?
Since the start of 2016 things have been exceptionally busy. Smart & Co has secured some major new clients resulting in numerous new instructions.
Have you seen any trends emerging in the market this year?
Locally, I have noted a continuing move towards bespoke services and niche business emerging. This could be a result of either the cottage-industry type ventures you see in traditional rural locations or just the logical filling in of gaps left by the internet.
How are the different property type markets doing individually?
Retail space in Comrie is limited. Crieff, which is about 6 miles East of Comrie, has the greater provision but has seen a drop in occupancy. The reason for this is partly to do with online competition but also due to other factors.
Office occupancy is still quite small but we are seeing some businesses expand out of the spare-room and take up of office space is forecasted to be a growth area!
How would you rate the overall situation of the commercial property market in Comrie at the moment?
Comrie is a small village with a good offering of shops which are virtually all occupied. We have the unique offering of a World War 2 POW Camp (Cultybraggan Camp) on our doorstep which is owned by the people of Comrie. This creates scope to provide business space of all types to accommodate start-ups through to midsized ventures. Smart & Co has secured a good number of tenants there but still have plenty space if anyone is interested!
Are there any particular challenges you face when doing business in your area?
As a commercial surveyor there are only limited volumes of local instructions. This is why Smart & Co covers a much wider area with clients and instructions from Moray all the way down to Leeds.
Are there any particular types of occupiers and businesses that are being attracted to Comrie as a business destination?
Many occupiers find merit in Comrie and Crieff but tourist related businesses tend to fare particularly well in Comrie. We are lucky to be situated in a beautiful part of the world with the advantage of being on a very well established tourist route from Perth to Oban.
Being only 7 miles from Crieff obviously has the advantage of Crieff Hydro, drawing many tourists who like to explore this stunning part of the world and our own Comrie Croft has cemented its position as a major attraction for mountain-biking, camping and as a wedding venue.
What are the benefits for businesses who are considering relocating to Comrie?
Connectivity is a major benefit. Geographically, Comrie is almost the exact centre-point of Scotland so from here we can reach most parts of the country in just over 2 hours.
What is the best thing about running a business in Comrie?
Like many people here I work from home so the work-life balance is brilliant. No matter where I have to go for meetings, the commute is spectacular around here.
Are there any projects or developments that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Absolutely - due to the volume of work, Smart & Co is doubling the team as of January next year! This is a very exciting time for the business and I am particularly enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead.
What do you hope that the rest of 2016 will bring for Smart & Co?
Continued growth and new opportunities!