Most Arcadia stores still empty, despite opening boom
We may be seeing something of a mini store opening boom at the moment, but huge numbers of stores belonging to failed businesses remain empty and that can be seen very clearly from the large number of Arcadia sites still vacant.
A new study from the Local Data Company (LDC) has shown that as many as 86% of the former Arcadia estate is empty a year after the fashion retail empire collapsed.
The stores included Topshop/Topman, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, with the new owners of those brands taking them online-only.
That meant almost 450 UK stores being vacated almost in one go. And while there was a lot of attention focused on who would take over the Topshop flagship at Oxford Circus (the eventual winner of that prize being IKEA), there has been little focus on what happened to the remainder of the estate.
Only 13% of the stores have been taken over by new occupiers with 1% having undergone complete structural change, such as demolition. And the biggest problem has been encountered for landlords based in the north-east. All of the north-east Arcadia stores are empty and the picture is almost as bad in the south-west where 97% still have no new tenants.
But in the south-east, 21% of the shops are now occupied and in Wales, the figure is 24%. However, LDC said that only 30% of the occupied sites now host fashion businesses.
Just as the Topshop flagship is now owned by a furnishings and homewares brand, many of the other Arcadia shops have been taken over by businesses with no fashion connection.
And the regional disparity underlines that the retail recovery currently being seen in the UK is very patchy. While we've heard of plenty of openings in flagship locations such as London’s Regent Street and big shopping malls like Liverpool One, many other retail locations continue to decline.
That continues a process seen in the last decade. After the high-profile BHS collapse in 2016, many ex-BHS stores stayed empty with a number being converted to other uses. And as well as BHS and Arcadia, the recent Debenhams failure has also seen a number of its stores converted to other uses or struggling to find new tenants.
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