Lavender Hill retail roundup – February 2021

It’s been a tough few months for our traders, with the always-difficult start of the year combining with yet another lockdown – but Lavender Hill has held up better than most. One of the emerging themes of lockdowns is that while national chains just close, smaller & independent businesses get imaginative and find ways to carry on. And Lavender Hill’s residents – many stuck at home all day – have rallied to support local traders.

We’ve also seen a good few new businesses starting – which is encouraging and reflects strong entrepreneurialism even in the most tricky circumstances. More than ever, this is the time more than ever to be trying out our newest arrivals, so here’s the rundown of the new and imminent changes on and near Lavender Hill. If this is the first time you’ve read one of these, do also have a look at our previous article, and the one before it, which picked out many more new arrivals. It’s also worth a look at the Clapham Junction BID who are now tracking opening hours and takeaway/delivery options for businesses towards the western end of Lavender Hill in a more comprehensive manner than we ever could!

At the eastern end, Sugarcane London – who opened a Caribbean restaurant next to Wandsworth Road railway station a few months ago – is opening up their second branch, in what used to be Signtair signmakers at 50 Lavender Hill. The existing restaurant is a proper independent business and very clearly a passionate project, with strong reviews – they’re not quite there yet on the fitout but this will certainly be worth a try when it opens.

Signtair haven’t gone far – moving across the road to larger premises at the long-empty former butchers’ next to the Coop (which we’ve often reported on!). At the time of our photo they were still working on the premises, which has been empty for longer than any other unit on the street – it’s really good to finally see it back in use, and also to see that the classic shop front and green tiles are being kept in place –

The former Dukes dry cleaners at 34 Lavender Hill is being refitted as Lash and brow lab, adding to quite a cluster of nail bars and hairdressers in this part of the street.

The former Amazing Thai next door has had a more problematic conversion, with the rear sliced off to become a flat, leaving the front maybe rather too small to accommodate a viable shop. We were really quite surprised to then see the front being further subdivided to create two absolutely tiny shops (whose precise purpose remains something of a mystery) – at a push these could be sole trader nail bars, but we do have concerns about the squeezing of retail units to the stage where they’re barely viable as standalone businesses.

One unit that’s looking for someone to make it theirs is 71 Lavender Hill (pictured right), a very-long-closed pharmacy which was tied to Signtair’s new home as the longest-running empty unit. It’s had a good quality renovation by the landlord to create a bright two storey corner property over 70 square feet, with a large usable basement with natural light, going for around £2000 a month. If it’s the unit for you, call WeCan properties on 020 3890 6474.

Maker of smart Shaker kitchens Olive & Barr have taken over the former William Hill in the middle of Lavender Hill, to open their first London showroom, which is being equipped at the time of writing. Special respect goes to the landlord of this unit, who wasted no time at all after William Hill closed their store in getting the builders in, fitting it out to a high standard with a completely new shopfront, and letting it to new tenants. No-one starting a new business wants to take on the risk of having to completely renovate the building before they can get going, which is why keeping the buildings in a decent state leads to much faster lettings, while premises that haven’t had a penny spent on them for years shift much more slowly. If every landlord was as proactive as this, we’d not have any empty shops at all.

The old Royal British Legion at 173 Lavender Hill has the builders in. The building was in a very dilapidated condition, and as we’ve previously reported it is being converted to flats, with a new shop unit on the ground floor, and an added roof storey.

Ryness’ former shop opposite Battersea Arts Centre has reopened as TaxAssist accountants – a well established nationwide chain. Let’s be honest – accountancy services is never going to set the world on fire – but this is a useful service to have here given the number of small businesses in the area.

In maybe one of the most interesting developments, Clapham Cycle – a local cycle club who run rides, socials and even cycle holidays – is taking over the former Haart estate agents at 255 Lavender Hill. This could be a real change to the cluster of estate agents currently along the western end of Lavender Hill, and we’ll be sure to report further when this opens.

Ginger Kiss at 196 Lavender Hill has reopened as the fourth branch of Yori, a Korean barbecue restaurant with branches in Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and Wimbledon. Takeaway only for the time being – but a welcome addition to this part fo the street.

The Royal Trinity Hospice shop is up for lease, and next door the former Lock Centre has opened as VapeMobile (with a slightly unfortunate bright green security shutter that doesn’t do a lot for the look of the generally smart stone frontage of the building).

The new London and South Western pub has (as we reports a few months back) opened, but has spent most of its time closed!

Finally… no retail roundup would be complete without a mention of Debenhams! Back when our branch was closed, with the landlord deciding that there were better options for the building, we wondered if the chain as a whole would survive, and sadly it didn’t. But there’s probably more to say than we can fit here – so we’ll hold that update for a full article in the near future.

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