12 March 2024

Department stores considering a wide range of uses to fill vacant spaces - Andrew Denye speaks to Property Week

Partner and Head of Retail, Andrew Denye, has been quoted in a Property Week article discussing the wide range of uses former department store owners are considering to fill the vacant spaces.

This April will mark eight years since the high-profile collapse of BHS. With all 167 of its shops closing, it proved to be the tip of the iceberg for department store chains and their problems. Since then, Debenhams and House of Fraser have suffered a similar fate, albeit not a complete wipeout, while long-established chains such as Beales now only operate a couple of sites.

So, what has become of these properties and what are the challenges their owners face in repurposing some of them?

For Andrew Denye, head of retail at law firm Forsters, it is simply the scale of the buildings that has left some landlords struggling to find a way forward. “It took a while for landlords to work out what on earth they were going to do” he says. “Some of these spaces are bigger than shopping centres. That’s a very big hole to fill.”

Denye has already spotted an uptick in department store deals coming through. “We’ve got more big-box deals on our books than at any point over the past 10 years. There’s been a really positive uptick in people looking at these spaces.”

Originally published on Property Week on 1 February, the full article can be read here behind the paywall.

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