The future of almost half of BHS’ former stores has been secured a year after the department store chain collapsed into administration.
According to research by Retail Week, 69 of the 164 former BHS stores either have new tenants or have firm redevelopment plans in place.
Stores in key cities such as London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle were quickly acquired by retailers, who have swooped on prime trading space.
Some 61 stores will continue to house retailers, while a further eight will be redeveloped to house gyms, cinemas, other leisure provisions, offices or housing.
But the future of shops in less attractive locations such as Hull, Bolton, Grimsby, Rotherham and Oldham remains up in the air as the vacant units struggle to find new occupiers.
The top players
Primark has been quickest to snap up former BHS stores, securing 13 sites, according to Retail Week research.
“Appetite to take on entire stores has been minimal as retailers increasingly look for smaller shops”
But appetite to take on entire stores has been minimal as retailers increasingly look for smaller shops in response to changing shopper habits and the shift to online.
A number of former BHS stores, such as its former Oxford Street flagship, are being split into smaller units.
Polish fashion giant LPP is bringing its Reserved fascia to the UK in part of the property, although around half of the prime unit still remains on the market.
Walthamstow has been split in a similar way to house Lidl and The Gym Group, Watford’s old BHS has welcomed Sports Direct and Uniqlo, and Primark and Sports Direct have shared the former BHS space at Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre.
There are comparable stories to be told in Cardiff Bay – where Home Bargains and Food Warehouse have become neighbours – and Bristol, which is now home to TK Maxx and Metro Bank.
A host of other vacant sites, such as those at Intu Bromley, will be sub-divided to accommodate more than one retailer, while others will be transformed for new uses such as gyms or cinemas.
Others have been earmarked for redevelopment into housing or office space, such as the old BHS in Croydon, which will be developed as part of the joint venture between shopping centre landlords Westfield and Hammerson.
Cushman & Wakefield’s head of national retail and occupier services Stuart Moncur said: “With the significant change in consumers’ shopping habits and the early signs of weakening confidence, we don’t anticipate robust demand for new large stores over the coming months.
“Quite a lot is said about there being so many stores still empty, but in reality, we are only a year in”
Tony Devlin, CBRE
“Therefore, many of these former BHS stores will lay vacant for some time to come.
“On a more positive note, a number of landlords are taking the opportunity to consider their redevelopment options for these substantial stores and improve the asset via physical alterations and alternative uses.”
CBRE head of high street retail Tony Devlin played down the number of shops that remain vacant.
He said: “Quite a lot is said about there being so many stores still empty, but in reality, we are only a year in.
“Even if you did a deal on day one [that BHS went into administration] you would struggle to get it open and trading by now.
“You’ve got to get planning permission, strip out asbestos and then fit the store out to fit your requirements. That’s a lot of work.”
However, Devlin admitted that “around a dozen” stores were likely to still be empty five years from now, highlighting locations such as Hull, Kilmarnock and Falkirk as being among those that would “struggle” to find new occupiers.
|Birmingham New Street||H&M|
|Bristol||Metro Bank and TK Maxx|
|Cardiff Bay||Home Bargains and Food Warehouse|
|Carmarthen||Days Department Store|
|Cheltenham||To be redeveloped into leisure space|
|Croydon||To be redeveloped by Westfield/Hammerson|
|Edinburgh Cameron Toll||Aldi|
|Edinburgh Ocean Terminal||Hotel development|
|Edinburgh Princes Street||Scottish Home Stores (temporary)|
|Glasgow||To be redeveloped|
|Kingston||Primark (temporary, before being redeveloped)|
|Leeds (Trinity)||New Look (part of the store)|
|Leeds White Rose||Next|
|Leicester (Fosse Park)||Primark|
|Middlesbrough||Flannels, USC and Sports Direct|
|Nottingham Giltbrook||Fabb Sofas|
|Oxford||Halifax and office space|
|Oxford Street||Reserved (part of the store)|
|Sheffield Meadowhall||Primark and Sports Direct|
|Southampton||Sports Direct and USC|
|Southend||Primark (if planning permission granted)|
|St Enochs||Cinema (if planning permission granted)|
|St Helens||Poundland and Pep&Co|
|St Helier / Jersey||Flannels|
|Sunderland||Sports Direct and USC|
|Surrey Quays||The Range|
|Walthamstow||Lidl and The Gym Group|
|Watford||Sports Direct and Uniqlo|
|West Ealing||Housing development|
|Weston Super Mare||Poundworld|
|Widnes||Gym (if planning permission granted)|
|Woking||British Heart Foundation|
|Wood Green||Poundworld Extra|
|York||H&M and Mountain Warehouse|