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Just when we were looking forward to Spring, we had to endure record freezing temperatures and snow from the ‘Beast from the East’. Q1 2018 has also seen a raft of new retail casualties, including Toys R Us, whose 105 stores went into administration at the end of February, alongside Maplin with 200 stores, Warren Evans (14 bed stores) and East (30 ladieswear stores), including one in Marlborough, we only let to them in September 2017. Some of these were as a result of long standing debt problems, but others show tough trading conditions on the High Street. If that wasn’t bad enough, the High Street has also been hit with a number of high profile restaurant closures, including 94 Prezzo/Chimichangas, including ones in Newbury and Gloucester. Jamie’s Italian have closed 12 outlets, including one in Bath where I acted as Arbitrator on the 2016 rent review. Byron Burgers closed 20 out of their 67 outlets, whilst Strada are closing 11 and Carluccios are discussing options with KPMG. Some of the closures are being blamed on rising rents and business rates, coupled with cost increases from the national living wage and raw material price rises. Some chains have over expanded, egged on by venture capital and private equity firms, offering ready funding, encouraging operators to over bid for new sites. In addition, the Brexit uncertainties have cooled consumer spending, with customers cutting back on eating out or seeking better value. None of this helps us attract new restaurants to Swindon, where vacancies remain at Regent Circus, the Brunel Food Court and proposed new restaurant locations at the Tented Market site and along Canal Walk.