Sixty percent of former BHS stores remain vacant
British Home Stores (BHS), the former Arcadia owned department store closed its 160 remaining stores last August when the company collapsed into administration. 16 months later, 60 percent of those stores are still unoccupied.
Of the 64 stores that have been occupied, most are situated in key cities London, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol as well as more affluent areas including Redditch in Worcestershire and Kingston upon Thames. Taken up by stores such as Primark - who acquired 13 of the spaces, as well as Next, Sports Direct, and H&M.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, commented on the low rate of reoccupation: “With large stores over multiple floors come large rents and rates bills, along with a format that is not conducive to modern retailing without a considerable cost to reconfigure the space,” in an interview with The Times. He also said that some had “legacy issues such as asbestos to deal with.”
It is likely that the remaining stores will not be taken by retail but instead leisure spaces such as cinemas or gyms.
The downfall of BHS saw a loss of 11,000 jobs as well as a £571 million pension deficit that provoked public backlash after Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green was accused of selling the company to avoid paying its insolvent pension schemes.
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