One year on from the closure of BHS’s store portfolio, four out of every five of the former locations still remain vacant.
A total of 160 stores were closed last August after the retailer collapsed, with 96 remaining unoccupied today. Including those which are awaiting development or planning permission, almost 82% of the stores remain closed.
The findings stem from a report by the Local Data Company, compiled for The Times and the BBC, which also shows that no region in the UK has a reoccupancy rate for the large stores above 50%. In Scotland, all 17 former BHS stores remain vacant, while in both the east of England, where there are 17 stores, and the southwest, where there are 15, only one store in each region has been taken.
Among the stores which have been repurposed is the Oxford Street shop, which will see Polish fast fashion retailer Reserved make its UK debut later this year. Primark has taken four of the stores, with Sports Direct, TK Maxx, Next and Poundworld also taking on some.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, blamed “legacy issues” such as asbestos for the lack of reoccupation, as well as the fact that the stores cross multiple levels.
“With large stores over multiple floors come large rents and rates bills, along with a format that is not conducive to modern retailing without a considerable cost to reconfigure the space,” he said. “Many of the stores are in locations where the pitch has moved to another part of the town or to a shopping centre or in some cases a dominant retail park.”