- 286 former Phones 4U stores remain empty a year after its administration
- Just 268 stores have been reoccupied and are trading
- Vodafone and EE have taken 194 vacant Phones 4U stores between them
- Retailers including Card Factory and Holland & Barrett have also snapped up empty units
More than half of the stores previously occupied by Phones 4U remain empty despite the business plunging into administration a year ago.
Phones 4U has been trying to secure new occupiers for its 500-strong store estate since it went into administration on September 15, 2014.
But figures from the Local Data Company revealed that 286 of the mobile phone retailer’s stores – or 52% of its estate – remained empty at the end of September 2015, while 268 (48%) had been reoccupied and were trading.
The data showed that the Southeast had been lumbered with the most empty units, with 40 shops remaining unoccupied since Phones 4U’s collapse.
There were 24 empty stores in Greater London – the same number as there were the whole of Scotland – but 71% of stores in the region had found new occupiers.
That was the joint highest rate of re-occupancy across the UK alongside Northern Ireland, where just two stores remain empty.
The Northwest had 31 unoccupied former Phones 4U stores, while the East of England and Yorkshire and The Humber both had 27. Just 29% of former Phones 4U stores in the latter region had been reopened and were trading under new tenants.
All four of the former Phones 4U stores in Derby remained vacant. There was also a 100% vacancy rate in Norwich, Hull and Doncaster, all of which have three stores that remain shuttered.
Local Data Company said “the majority” of new occupiers were mobile phone retailers Vodafone and EE. Vodafone has taken over 138 stores, while EE has secured leases on 56 of the units. Between them, the two businesses account for 68% of the reoccupancies.
Overall, 94.3% of the former Phones 4U stores had been taken on by retailers, with Card Factory and Holland & Barrett among the other new tenants.
Food and beverage operators had secured leases on just 0.7% of the stores. Local Data Company said this was because of the “extra process of needing to change planning permission” on the units.
Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson added: “The Phones 4U administration was dramatic for a number of reasons and not least for the number of vacant shops it brought to the market.
“The fact that more than half still lie empty should not be a surprise when you look at the locations, many of which have above average vacancy rates and have done for some time.
“Some might consider that there are already too many phone shops and therefore appetite to take more from a failed competitor would be weak. Store size and location also come into play as pitches have moved significantly in many towns up and down the country.”