Happy Christmas!

You will have guessed that life has been a bit busy again! And the blog took a back seat.


So that you can feel really sorry for me – I’m still working today…

The blog is taking a bit of a scheduled rest – until early January.

Im 99% sure it will be back.

But I also may have a slightly new angle for it – which I have been thinking about for the last few months. I won’t spoil the surprise – but you can be sure it will be centred on Nottingham, will have a lot to do with property, be positive as much as I can be … and perhaps start to get us to think of a better way forward for the City. I have probably said too much…

Then again, it could be just back to the grumpy old man. Which I think I am perfectly suited to.

Finally, I wish all of my visitors a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year – and I’ll see you on the 6th January 2014.

None of the above?

I always smile at, so called, ‘surveys’ – they can pretty much say what people want them to say. 85% of people surveyed thought their new shampoo made their hair chintzy. (126 were surveyed). So 19 people didn’t? And who exactly are these 126 people. And why 126?


At the weekend in the Sunday Times magazine there was a Yougov survey about how people travel to work. As you might expect there were some pretty standard answers – 53% went by car, 15% were on foot, 12% on a bus, 7% on a train, 5% on a bike. The Tube accounted for 4% and just 1% used their motorbike.

In all surveys you then get the sweep up clause of ‘other’ – in this case they amounted to 1% – possibly they went by boat or helicopter?

Which leaves us 2%. They weren’t content with falling into the ‘other’ category – they responded ‘not sure’. This clearly is of concern. It wasn’t suggested that they spoiled their paper – it was they really had no clue as to how they got there. So this either suggests telekinesis or time travel

Or that they are like me and leave the house in a car, arrive at the office in the same car – but have no recollection of anything in between?

A timely reminder …

Apparently it Christmas next week which means several things:

1. I need to start thinking about those gift ideas.
2. Christmas Day is a Quarter Day.

In respect of the latter – this is a big rent collection day – one of four in the year. And, as a managing agent, it is one of our busy periods. Although technically you will think that this is a Bank Holiday this doesn’t change the fact that rent is due. It’s not due the day after Boxing Day.

We would stick to that story as there is nothing else we can do – most of the commercial tents signed a contract which requires them to make the payment on the due date. That it is a festive day – full of hope and joy makes no difference.

It seems though that one of our local Housing Associations might have rubbed the news in to get them suitable PR – their ‘card-like’ reminder has been picked up by a number of the press folks.


Apparently on the back is the real message, On the back it reads, “Our offices are closed from midday on December 23 and reopen on January 2 but that doesn’t mean that rent payments should stop.”

It is a serious message – and they have a significant number of arrears in January each year.

I just wonder about the gift-wrapped message?

Happy Christmas.

The elephant in the Intu

A few weeks ago Nottingham City Council made an announcement that they were putting money into the Broadmarsh redevelopment – in an effort to start the stalled redevelopment plans. I blogged about it (and penguins) here.

We once had a dream of a first class retail offer ... now long gone.

We once had a dream of a first class retail offer … now long gone.

And what do Intu say about this? Well, not a lot.

Their website contains an Autumn Statement which makes no reference at all to Broadmarsh – but does focus on the other one…

And their website is equally vague, “Nottingham is an exciting development opportunity and intu has plans that will extend and upgrade both intu Victoria Centre and intu Broadmarsh, bringing new brands, restaurants and leisure spaces to re-establish Nottingham’s status as the top shopping destination in the Midlands.

The latter is hardly “news”.

I do believe that there is an agreement in place with the City, but I don’t believe it contains any dates. So although the intent is commendable the commercial reality is that there is no certainty at this time. And there is little we can do. The Broadmarsh remains a stain on the City.

Soon we will have an improved Station and Tram system. It’s a pity that they stop near the place. There is little to celebrate about this lump of concrete and bricks.

Broadmarsh sits on what was known as Drury Hill – which was the main street where the poorest residents of Nottingham once lived in Nottingham’s smelliest slum, Narrow Marsh. Funny how some things never change?

My guess is that if the works is complete in five years time Nottingham will have done well.

A bit busy!

I had a number of comments that the blog has been a bit quiet of late. I have been a bit busy!


There is a always a period running up to Christmas where we create a ‘deadline’ for ourselves – ‘can you get this over the line by Christmas’. We try to get things completed before the long break of Christmas and the New Year.

In the last few weeks the market does seem to have improved. I have put properties under offer and have let space on lease at a level not seen for some time. And long may it continue.

I think people are fed up of thinking that the property world is all doom and gloom and are trying to stimulate interest again. There are certainly more enquiries. Property that has stuck for some time is shifting – although perhaps that is a function of a more realistic view on value being taken.

We will publish our annual review of the market in January and I expect that we will see some movement in the figures – perhaps for the first time in five years?

So what will 2014 hold for the market? I expect that it will come out fighting in the early part of the year. We are still seeing some Government initiatives pump-priming the market.That will really bite in 2014 as much of that cash has a sell-by date of March 2015 on it! If we can generate some real interest in the market next year – it should carry us through the uncertainty of the following election year…

Fingers crossed.

Technology that won’t happen…

I am an early adopter when it comes to most technologies. I think we have some fantastic gadgets and toys – both at work and at play.

Last week there was an amusing video posted by Amazon – showing a quadrocoptor delivering a small amazon parcel.

The announcement suggested that in the future we will be able to get these deliveries within an hour of ordering!

I have a feeling that our imaginations may have got a little carried away here. How long will it be before someone has their eye taken out by these drones. I think the CAA might have something to say too as our lower level airways became congested! If Amazon do this then why not Sainsburys too with your bottle of wine you need?

Nice thought though – just not ever so practical!

Being a bit different…

I gave a talk last week in nottingham for WREN – the . I’m not quite sure how I managed to be talked into the gig – but I did. And the subject was one which I feel passionately about.


We managed in 30 minutes to cover The Grimsey Report and what that means for Nottingham.

It is a big subject area – and the audience being primarily girls (aka professional shoppers) this had me slightly worried. But I think we were on the same page! There was an interesting debate after the ‘death by powerpoint’ part – and I think people are starting to understand what we need to do.

Some of the points made were that the growth of the small, quirky independent has a real future part to play. The competitive shelf life of products is getting shorter – our boredom threshold is low! The physical space for retailing needs to differentiate itself – this is key. Retailing needs to be treated like theatre – its a show – act up!

The Grimsey report made mention of the importance of connectivity in technical terms. There is a necessity to embrace technology – we are constantly playing catch up. I was interested to see a statistic appear in the week which suggested tha internet users in China now number now 1.5 times the US population!

In some of the research I was doing for the talk I came across the Boston Tea Party coffee shop – this is a social hub which sells great coffee – but it mixes in art and artists performing. They also support local organisations. You can’t help but ‘like’ this sort of operation?

Middle Class shifts!

In this supposed classless society I suspect we are even more aware of our position in the pecking order than ever before.


Perhaps because of the internet and social media we can see our surroundings. We see what other people have. We can see it in real time.

There is no doubt that we live in consumerist times. It is all about more and more for less and less, in part. We want things. And we want them now.

As this knowledge of the world around us permeates society and we chase ‘things’ it seems we are being pushed up the social ladder. By 2030 the suggestion is that 60% of society will be middle class.

This shouldn’t be a surprise as our standard of living increases. Although this is a good thing – does this also mean that the poorer will become poorer – if we have a finite amount of resources – will the lower classes (as defined) be left behind further?

It is a good thing that we try to improve our lives and there is, I suppose, an inevitability that we climb the evolutionary tree higher. But that does mean that we need a safety net for the classes below middle class?

It’s no different to Michael Gove’s view of education – he wants “all schools to be a good as the best” or “better than average“. It doesn’t quite work like that.

Is it not a law of thermodynamics which says that energy can be neither created nor destroyed?

Something has to give…

Black Friday…

I remember Black Wednesday all too well, but Black Friday?


It seems that we have imported this new day from the other side of the pond. It’s a day allied to Thanksgiving when you can get all manner of shopping deals. It marks the start of Christmas shopping.

And being America, some Black Friday deals are irresistible. Like guns. And bullets.

It seem that Gun-buying after Thanksgiving is a “holiday” tradition. If you want a gun in America you have to have a background check done by the FBI. In 2011 and 2012 the FBI recorded a record number of calls for background checks for gun purchases on Black Friday. In 2012 three times the daily average took the phone system down. There were 154,873 calls.

It transpires that the FBI doesn’t track actual firearms purchases so customers can buy multiple guns at one time!

The total number of guns sold could be even higher than the 150,000 checks counted.

Then you discover that the FBI actually ran 17,238,102 background checks in the last 12 months. Seventeen million!

The amusing thing is that Thanksgiving is celebrated primarily in the USA and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year…

Quite how you get from harvest to guns is as perplexing as it gets!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man!, Travel Tagged Black Friday, guns, Thanksgiving, USA