Ilfracombe retail vacancy rate two-thirds the UK national average

A survey of commercial properties in Ilfracombe, North Devon has established a vacancy rate of just 9.6%. The national average is reported to be 14.6%. The survey conducted by COMBEbusiness on Monday 7 May 2012 covered 271 properties comprising the seaside town’s high street, seafront and harbour areas.

Of the businesses trading in this main retail area, 152 are shops and 86 are food outlets.

“While trading conditions are tough for retailers everywhere, Ilfracombe is maintaining its status as one of the largest retail destinations in North Devon,” said Robert Zarywacz, chairman of COMBEbusiness.

“New shops continue to open and closures have been few. In the past year new openings included an indoor market, television and electrical store, two delis, bicycle shop and insurance broker.

“We are now conducting this survey regularly after the Local Data Company claimed a much higher vacancy rate for the town last year. We can point to the exact date of our surveys and define the premises surveyed to give a precise record.”

“There are a number of retail opportunities for new and existing businesses. The resort is on the South West Coast path and has just been awarded ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status, so there is clearly potential for outdoor and walking outlets. More clothing stores would also be welcome to add to the buzz of the shopping district.

“Ilfracombe is becoming more widely known for the wide range of fresh, local and speciality foods available from its two butchers, two bakers, wet fishmonger, greengrocer, delis and health food shops, and chocolate and confectionery stores.”

Visitors and shoppers like Ilfracombe for its independent stores and lack of national multiple retailers and this has been confirmed by market research commissioned by Ilfracombe Town Council.

Robert concluded: “This is a fantastic achievement in such tough times and we thank all our retailers and cafe/restaurant/pub owners for their hard work in keeping the town open for business.”

COMBEbusiness submits Portas Pilots application for Ilfracombe

COMBEbusiness in conjunction with Ilfracombe Town Council has submitted an application to the Department for Communities and Local Government for selection as one of the 12 Portas Pilot towns in the UK.

Thanks to all who helped, including those who took part in our supporting video:


Thanks to Peter Cooper of Ilfracombe Arts College for filming and editing the video, a genuine community production.


Participate in the HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership forum

The Heart of the South West (HotSW) is the Local Enterprise Partnership for Devon and Somerset. It replaces the former Regional Development Agency and represents businesses across the two counties.

Because it covers such a large area, it is important that the views of businesses in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are represented and taken into account when policies are created.

One way of doing this is for individual businesses to participate in the online HotSW forum. You can do this by registering at The more businesses that participate, the more the needs of this area are likely to be considered.

Ilfracombe 2012 visitor guide and leaflet now online

Ilfracombe and District Tourism Association’s 2012 Ilfracombe Visitor Guide and Leaflet are  now online. Click the links below to see interactive versions.

If more COMBEbusiness members in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe or Woolacombe want to promote their online resources, please get in touch.

Stalls and hair salon available in Ilfracombe Indoor Market

COMBEbusiness member Ilfracombe Indoor Market welcomes more stallholders to help establish this new addition to the town.

Stalls are available from Monday to Saturday on a daily or weekly basis in the market located in the High Street, Ilfracombe, North Devon.

The market has its own hair salon, also now available to rent. The salon is equipped and ready for a business-minded manager who could perhaps rent a chair to another hair stylist and there is an opportunity to bring in a nail technician.

Manager Kate Helyer is developing cross-promotional ideas for whoever takes on the salon to help build up clientele and there are no business overheads to worry about.

For more details contact Kate on 07843 295803.

Free entry to Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe on New Year’s Day

Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe, North Devon will be open for FREE for one day only on New Year’s Day, 10am to 4.30pm.

Why not go for a stroll through to read the fascinating history, see the spectacular wedding venue, or even go for a bracing New Year’s Day dip?! Lots of locals have still never visited or might not have been for years – so here is the opportunity.

The cafe-bar and play hut will be open 10am-6pm for visitors to warm up with a coffee or mulled wine and popular Sunday Roasts are being relaunched! (bookings recommended). The play hut & cafe-bar will also be open daily 27th December to 2nd January.

For details see: