Oxford sale paves the way for new four-star hotel

GCW has advised the owner of Boswell’s & Co Department Store on the sale of one of Oxford’s most prominent retail buildings. The deal will see the prime asset transformed into a 101-room hotel, maximising value for the client and the city.

GCW has built a reputation for helping its clients look beyond retail when repositioning and driving value from their assets. In June, the team completed the sale of the 50,000 sq ft Boswell’s department store in the heart of Oxford city centre to secure its future as a boutique hotel.

Founded in 1738, Boswell’s was the second oldest family-run department store in the world and enjoyed prime position on the corner of Cornmarket and Broad Street, yet the opening of the 800,000 sq ft Westgate shopping centre in 2017 transformed the city’s retail landscape and when GCW was instructed to sell the store, the team quickly realised that the greatest value was unlikely to come from retail.

GCW started a dialogue with the owner of the leasehold, Oxford City Council. The priority was to identify a future use for the building that would achieve the highest sale price for the client whilst meeting the needs of the city. All parties saw the opportunity to attract a quality hotel operator and from the 15 bids received, Reef Group was selected on the back of its plans to transform the space into a 101-room hotel.

The strategy delivered far greater value than would have been achieved by targeting conventional retailers and unlocked a unique development opportunity. Reef Group has started on site and hopes to complete The Store Hotel in Summer 2023.