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.

Fashion rival Next has also been busy, moving into five former BHS units since the chain collapsed, while Sports Direct and Poundworld have also moved into five apiece.

“Appetite to take on entire stores has been minimal as retailers increasingly look for smaller shops”

Fellow value operator B&M has signed deals on four stores, with the likes of Aldi, H&M, Wilko, Outfit, The Range, Uniqlo and TJ Hughes also taking on space formerly occupied by BHS.

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.

Beyond retail

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.

LocationNew occupant
Aberdeen B&M
Barnstaple Next 
Basingstoke  Next
Bexleyheath Morleys 
Birmingham New Street H&M
Blackburn Wilko
Bournemouth Aldi
Brighton Zara
Bristol Metro Bank and TK Maxx
Burton-on-Trent  Next 
Bury B&M
Cameron Toll Aldi
Cardiff Bay Home Bargains and Food Warehouse
Carlisle Primark
Carmarthen Days Department Store
Cheltenham To be redeveloped into leisure space
Chesterfield TJ Hughes
Colchester Primark 
Cribbs Causeway Primark 
Croydon To be redeveloped by Westfield/Hammerson
Dundee B&M 
Eastbourne Poundworld
Edinburgh Cameron Toll Aldi
Edinburgh Ocean Terminal Hotel development
Edinburgh Princes Street Scottish Home Stores (temporary)
Exeter Poundworld
Glasgow  To be redeveloped
Gloucester Primark 
Harrow Primark 
Hartlepool B&M
Hastings Primark
Kingston Primark (temporary, before being redeveloped)
Leeds (Trinity) New Look (part of the store)
Leeds White Rose Next
Leicester (Fosse Park) Primark 
Llandudno Primark
Manchester Uniqlo
Metro Centre Next 
Middlesbrough Flannels, USC and Sports Direct
Newcastle Outfit
Nottingham Giltbrook Fabb Sofas
Oxford Halifax and office space
Oxford Street Reserved (part of the store)
Redditch The Range 
Sheffield Meadowhall Primark and Sports Direct
Solihull Dunelm
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
Staines Primark
Sunderland Sports Direct and USC
Surrey Quays The Range 
Swansea Fort! Stores
Taunton Gym
Torquay Buyology
Trafford Park Primark 
Truro Wilko
Uxbridge  Decathlon
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 
Worthing Poundworld Extra 
York H&M and Mountain Warehouse