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Empty shops open up rent opportunities

Retailers looking to expand could land good deals on a swathe of retail properties in prime locations, as administrators try to offload stores from collapsed businesses.

Almost 300 stores in locations including the Bullring in Birmingham, Meadowhall in Sheffield and Gateshead’s MetroCentre have come onto the market in the past week, as administrators prepare to close 220 Barratts and Priceless stores, and JJB Sports’ 77 Original Shoe Company and Qube shops.

Retail agent King Sturge has been appointed to dispose of JJB Sports’ lifestyle division stores after the two chains went into administration last week.

Locations include a mixture of high streets and shopping centres, mainly in the Midlands and north of England.

Deloitte, the administrator of footwear group Stylo, is set to appoint property agents to try to offload Stylo’s remaining Barratts and Priceless stores, after the Ziff family, who founded Stylo, bought back 160 shops out of administration.

Retail property sources said landlords were under pressure to fill vacant stores as the increasing number of businesses going bust or slimming their property portfolios threatened to create a glut of empty units.

One retail agent said: “Although there is availability in a lot of centres already, there is a quantity of units becoming available, and landlords will have to plug the holes. Landlords want someone in paying the rent sooner rather than latter, so there are likely to be some better deals out there.”

Deloitte is also in the process of disposing of about 800 stores following Woolworths’ demise, while retailers including young fashion chain USC and discount menswear business The Officers Club have also recently ditched stores after going into administration.

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