Location, Location, Location! | How to Get the Best Property Deal for Your Food or Retail Business?

November 2, 2017

Finding and keeping a winning location

It should go without saying that finding the right location is extremely important for the success of a food retail store and a restaurant. A quick Google-search will bring up countless articles about what due-diligence you should be conducting on the area you have found e.g. its demographics: age, household type, income or its potential ‘foot traffic’(how many people pass that spot every day). If it’s a congested office-heavy location, a lunchtime shop or restaurant might be an easier win, for example. Think about it – there are many average stores and restaurants that do well because they have smashing locations. We’ve all been there, sitting with your average yet over-priced meal which is quelling the hunger pang but it’s certainly not the tastiest thing you’ve eaten of late; you’re only there for convenience. Yet you’re STILL a customer. This is why fantastic food plus a great location makes for a winning combination.

It is imperative to not only find a great location but to negotiate the best possible deal with the landlord to KEEP it. Did you know you can and should negotiate most items on the commercial lease? For example, you may wish to negotiate the inclusion of better renewal options as an added protection as your location is so critical. There are some clauses which are non-negotiable such as business tax rates but factors such as the length of the lease, the deposit, and rent are all negotiable. It is even worth trying to negotiate a rent free period and a break clause giving you the flexibility to move should your retail store or restaurant requirements change.

Applying for licences

Firstly, you must register your food store with the government via your local council e.g. if you wanted to set up a shop or restaurant in Dulwich, London, you would contact Southwark Council. This must be done at least 28 days before you opens. It is a very simple process and doesn’t cost anything. You could face a heavy fine and even prosecution if you don’t do it, so don’t get caught out!

Secondly, if you plan on selling alcohol, you will need a licence to do so, granted under the Licensing Act 2003. As a shop or restaurant that will be in a permanent location, you will need a ‘premises licence’. For more information about this and to register, you should go to the government alcohol licence page and download the premises licence forms.

How could a lawyer help you?

It would be advisable to ask a legal expert to check what you’re signing up to before you sign it! In the beginning, they can review your lease to see if it is industry standard and fair to your business, highlight any onerous terms and what specific clauses you would want to negotiate. For example, if location is highly important to you we would suggest including certain statutory sections which give you, in certain circumstances, the opportunity to ask the courts for a further lease even if your landlord objects.

Once your business is established, a lawyer can help with the renegotiation of future leases, acquiring further premises such as customer car parks and negotiation should either you or your landlord breach the terms of the lease as well as answer any general enquiries about your lease and licence terms.

Towards the end of your lease or licence, a lawyer can help to negotiate a new contract as well as advising on any disputes that may have arisen due to a breach of the lease terms. They could even draft bespoke terms for your lease ensuring that what is most important to you and your restaurant is protected.

Well after all that, hopefully, you realise that you’re always better off picking up the phone to one of our LawBrief’s after Kirsty and Phil have found the perfect location for your business! If you have any questions you can speak to one of our expert Food or Property lawyers for a free consultation by submitting an enquiry here or call us today on 020 7148 1066.

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