BHS struggles but retail good news on way

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Graeme Skillen

Bosses of Middlesbrough’s largest shopping centre say they hope to see the town’s beleaguered BHS store remain – but have emphasised that there is a generally buoyant local retail market.

Middlesbrough’s British Home Stores outlet is at risk of closure after the struggling chain put itself into administration.

Top Shop boss Sir Philip Green sold the loss-making department store for just £1 to investment group Retail Acquisition last year.

However, the new owners have now filed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a type of insolvency proceeding, as they bid to push through a restructuring of its finances based around cutting rents with many of its landlords.

BHS has identified 40 stores that it says it needs to reduce its rent by a quarter for the next 10 months while it negotiates new deals with landlords.

These are most at risk of closure and include the store in Hartlepool, while it is said that the Middlesbrough store will only be deemed viable if rents can be halved.

Attached to the Cleveland Centre, although not a tenant of the shopping centre, BHS opened on the corner of Linthorpe Road and Corporation Road in the 1950s.

Cleveland Centre manager Graeme Skillen said: “BHS is part of the retail history of the town, so I’m sure I can speak for everyone at Cleveland Centre when I say we would love to see it remain here, if possible.

“Thankfully, there’s been plenty of good news in terms of local retail recently, with five stores opening in Cleveland Centre over the past 12 months, while the hotel is now being extended too.

“We’re also in the advanced stage of negotiations to bring in a number of large-scale retailers, so we’re hopeful of making one or two positive announcements in the near future.”

Over the past year, Pep & Co, Holland & Barrett, Collectables, Shoe Zoe and Number One Currency have all opened units in the Cleveland Centre.


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