More than half of BHS sites are still empty two years after the chain collapsed, new research has shown.
The Local Data Company has found that of the 164 sites, 84 are now occupied by new tenants. Primark has taken the most sites with seven stores in former BHS properties, followed by variety chain B&M with six.
Some BHS stores have been divided into multiple stores, while a small number are still under redevelopment. Two have been demolished and the site of the former Ealing store will be converted into new homes.
The North East has seen the highest percentage of re-occupancy of BHS stores. LDC said this region provides the most opportunity for many multiple occupiers as many do not already have a presence there.
Ronald Nyakairu, senior insight analyst at LDC, said that the empty units highlight the challenges that landlords will face over the next 12 to 18 months as more department stores close.
”However, research has shown that with skillful asset management, landlords can find new uses for these properties,” he said. ”Many of the store owners have either reformatted the stores to create smaller units for expanding fashion chains like Joules and Uniqlo, or targeted occupiers that can utilise the extra floorspace to add concessions like coffee shops or sister brands such as Next opening Lipsy and Next Home.
“Looking forward the challenge will remain as the list of occupiers who are both looking to expand, and who don’t already have a presence in the towns set to see closures is not limitless,” he added.