With Brexit dominating the news headlines across the UK and Ireland, Newry, on the North South corridor just miles from the border with the Republic, is getting on with businesses regardless.
Newry city has long been used to dealing with border issues and the ebb and flow of custom depending on the changing punt, sterling and now Euro exchange rates.
This history, while often making business very challenging, has made Newry businesses, flexible, resilient and creative.
The city is home to many businesses which are active players in Irish, UK and International sectors including MJM Marine, Norbrook, First Derivatives, Mac Interiors, Newry Building Supplies, and Autoline Insurance Group, and, despite their growth, they remain faithful to their Newry roots.
While the impact of Brexit is unknown, the ever agile, flexible Newry businesses, will find a way to make it work.
Confidence in the city as a place to do business is obvious to me and my five-strong team of chartered surveyors at Best Property Services.
It’s a feeling that’s tangible, especially when you look at the inward commercial investment it has attracted this year. We’re seeing existing businesses investing and expanding their Newry base while many new businesses are coming into the city ready to invest.
The recent announcement of €100m investment by SeaTruck and the £3m capital investment in Warrenpoint Port, Northern Ireland’s second largest port just seven miles from Newry, will further enhance the city’s appeal.
These are significant investments and a clear commitment to Warrenpoint Port and the wider Newry, Mourne and Down district.
Changes in the commercial market around Newry since the start of 2018 are significant.
In line with the findings of the latest RICS and Ulster Bank Commercial Survey, in the second quarter of 2018 we saw increased demand for industrial and office premises.
In that time our commercial team has sold or let over 100,000 sq ft of industrial space in Carnbane, Greenbank and Milltown Industrial Estate to major manufacturers and exporters including pharmaceutical, building and catering suppliers.
The office market is buoyant too with recent lets including 3,000 sq ft in the last quarter to Glanbia Foods, the recent sale of a 3,300 sq ft scheme to MAC Interiors and a further three offices in a significant city centre scheme under offer.
And despite the downturn in the retail sector being reported across the UK we are still seeing demand for large retail units, with Habitat for Humanity signing a 6,000 sq ft space on the Dublin Road while in Catherine Street two units sold last quarter, one achieving 50% over guide price.
Our commercial transaction levels are up 80% last year and demand and lack of supply is driving up interest and yields with values set to continue to rise.
We’ve also noted a rising number of business owners indicating a willingness to buy land and design a purpose built unit/premises to their own specifications.
This approach can be hampered by available land and will obviously be a longer process, so ‘ready to buy’ is still the preferred option, but with supply limited some businesses which would never have previously considered it, are open to the ‘buy and build’ route, such is the level of interest in Newry city.
Ciara Aiken, Commercial Director at Best Property Services, is a Fellow of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).