The majority of former BHS stores are still unoccupied a year after the department store group finally closed its doors.

Out of 160 BHS branches that were shuttered in August 2016, 96 – 60% – are still empty, a study has shown.

Another 35, 22%, are expected to win planning permission or new tenants are likely to move in, research by the Local Data Company showed.

Four-fifths not in use

But including them in the total number of stores at present not in use, four fifths of the estate is still empty.

Altogether, 25 stores have been taken on, mainly by retailers such as Primark, The Range and Poundworld’s Extra format.

The figures largely concur with research conducted by Retail Week in April, a year after BHS’s administration, which indicated that about half of the retailer’s former stores had secured a future.

Retailers such as B&M, Next and Sports Direct are also among those to have taken former BHS space, while Polish fashion newcomer Reserved is opening in part of the former BHS Oxford Street premises.

‘Many of these former BHS stores will lay vacant for some time to come’

Stuart Moncur, Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield head of national retail and occupier services Stuart Moncur said at the time of Retail Week’s research in April: “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.

“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.”