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Industry News

Published on August 29th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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82% of BHS stores lie empty

131 BHS stores in Great Britain remain unoccupied a year after the retailer’s scandalous collapse. The firm’s demise, described as a tale of “leadership failure and personal greed”, cost 11,000 jobs and left 20,000 members of its pension scheme fearing for their future.

BHS had 160 stores.

According to research carried out by the Local Data Company, four of those stores have been demolished, 35 have deals or planning permission pending, leaving 96 stores with no plans for future occupancy.   

LDC Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “The reoccupation levels of old BHS stores are not surprising one year on. Firstly, many of these stores are large stores over multiple floors and after being occupied for many years, some have legacy issues such as asbestos to deal with. With large stores over multiple floors come large rents and rates bills along with a format that is not conducive to modern retailing without considerable cost to reconfigure the space.”

Fashion, Discount and DIY stores are the most common retail categories amongst the 25 outlets that have been reoccupied, and a number of those with deals or planning permission pending have applied for change of use. These include the Princes Street store in Edinburgh for conversion to a hotel; Taunton, where a gym will operate above a Poundworld store, and Glasgow, where plans are in place to convert the store into a cinema.

Stores that have been reoccupied show significant regional variances, with Greater London holding the largest proportion of occupancy, at 47%.  

Towns outside of London that have seen their old BHS reoccupied include Hartlepool, Woking, Torquay, Solihull, Knaresborough, Bexleyheath, Basingstoke, St. Helens, Worthing, Kingston Upon Thames, Colchester, Harrow, Llandudno, Sunderland, Chesterfield and Redditch.

Hopkinson said that many of the empty stores are in locations where the pitch has moved to another part of the town, to a shopping centre or in some cases a dominant retail park.

He added: “The best of the old BHS stores have been taken by the value retailers who can operate profitably out of large stores in high footfall towns. Many of the others are unlikely to be reoccupied as shops and therefore alternative uses must be sought. Some currently are in the form of cinemas, gyms, hotels, offices – anything but a traditional shop.”

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