One year on and the Preston BHS store is still empty

Photo Neil Cross
This week marks a year since BHS in Fishergate, Preston, shut down
Photo Neil Cross This week marks a year since BHS in Fishergate, Preston, shut down
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P​reston’s once famous BHS store still lies empty today – one year after the troubled chain collapsed.

The flagship store, in a high-profile position on Fishergate, has still not attracted a new tenant despite being marketed by two agents.

Why?

The branch was one of the first BHS stores to close in July 2016 as the fashion, furniture and homeware chain collapsed. It gradually shut down its 162 stores.

It is believed that more than 100 former BHS stores are still unoccupied nationally.

What is going on?

The building is up to let and has attracted some interest.​ There have been several rumours of would-be tenants looking to move into Fishergate, but none have materialised. Observers say the the high rent ​​and rates will will put off most but the most wealthy interested parties. Others feel that the building would have to be split between at least least two businesses to be viable.

What happens now?

Sports Direct has moved into or is thought to have agreements to move into five former BHS shops. According to a recent survey, Primark has taken on the most BHS sites, with around 15 sites secured, followed by Next, which is thought to be in discussions on six stores. Poundworld, Aldi and B&M have secured around three sites.Business chiefs in Preston say everything possible is being done to try to find a tenant.

Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District, said: “The BHS site is a flagship on Preston’s high-street. It would be a huge positive for the city centre to see that unit filled by a strong retail brand.”

Blackpool’s BHS store in Church Street is also still empty. For a special report on the city centre, see next week’s Post.

Here are just some of your comments:

Laura Jane Saunders: “Why not something along the lines of an old fashioned mercantile shop. You can buy homewards similar to dunelm, debenhams etc, but also contains a coffee shop and deli/farm shop style area so you can either eat in or take out the food it sells.”

Nick Edmondson said: “Turn it into a food bank, all the local eateries can take all their unused stock to help the jobless and the needy (Preston can lead from the front on this) and prevent it being just another empty Preston town centre shop”

Charlotte Louise Ellison: “Primark! People travel to Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester because ours is just so poor in comparison!”

Margaret Bessent: “Please not another furniture store we are supposed to be a city so maybe a John Lewis or Selfridges to help attract more people.”

Shelley Peckett: “With several floors it should be cafe, soft play and trampoline Park/ older kids entertainment or indoor market style stalls, handmade gifts etc.”

Neil Marginson: “It should be turned into something akin to Albert Schloss in Manchester. It would change the nightlife.”

Adam Kean: “An indoor entertainment centre with a play Area, and amusement arcade etc.”

Samantha Bright: “House of Fraser? John Lewis? Selfridges? Doesn’t matter because none of them will come here.”

Jennifer Jones: “A kind of farmhouse store selling home made produce jams pickles chutneys ect and Bread of different varieties cheese hams ect coffee and handmade chocolates one of those kind of shops.”