Agency Boards
5 July 2017

Belfast’s BHS building looks set to be taken over by new retailers


The former British Home Stores building in Belfast’s city centre looks set to be taken on by two new retailers. 

BHS closed their doors on the Castle Place store last August resulting in the loss of 57 jobs.

Two separate retailers are believed to be under offer at the building. If successful, this would require the businesses to take each of the buildings at Castle Place.

It is also believed that there is ‘health interest’ from businesses in buying the neighbouring former Mothercare store.

In February the Belfast Telegraph reported that a building attached to the former BHS store was believed to have been sold to Bywater Properties. The BHS administration affected 11,000 employees in 164 stores across the UK. This included 152 staff at four local outlets.

If a deal is made to take on the city centre store, this would result in half of the former BHS properties finding replacements.

Dunnes Stores currently occupies the former BHS unit at the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey, however its occupancy is temporary, while furniture retailer EZ Living Interiors inhabits the large unit left behind when BHS Home closed at Holywood Exchange.

A new commercial property report from CBRE states that, while the second quarter of the year has been slow, some £220m of deals are going through legals and are due to be finalised within weeks.

CBRE has also said that the commercial property market in Northern Ireland is set to see the benefits from an added £1bn funding following the agreement between the Conservatives and the DUP.

Throughout the second quarter of the year, just £18m was invested in seven separate transactions.

“Despite potential uncertainty resulting from local and national politics, market activity continues to be robust, albeit the speed of completing transactions slowed running up to the UK general election,” Gavin Elliott, director with CBRE said.

“The local property market should also be well placed for further future investment as a result of the additional £1bn funding recently announced for Northern Ireland.

“The occupational markets continue to be active with a number of new office lettings confirmed, and both the Belfast City Centre Investment Fund and Northern Ireland Investment fund tender are set to provide additional funding to the property sector.”

And CBRE has said getting Stormont up-and-running and the fast-tracking of corporation tax reductions remain the priorities for the commercial property market here.

The report states notable retail transactions in the last quarter included Hotel Chocolat at Donegall Square North, Boojum at Victoria Square and Skechers at the Quays in Newry.

Many industrial properties remain on the market, including the Michelin site in Ballymena.

The report also says that the second quarter saw a number of “large transactions progress towards completion”, including the £125m sale of CastleCourt Shopping Centre to Holywood firm Wirefox.

“We believe that Q3 will deliver a high level of investment given the closure of a number of shopping and retail schemes due to complete in the coming weeks,” Mr Elliott states.

“Whilst the Tory/DUP deal should be positive for the property sector, it is imperative that we have a stable local government in place, to deliver confidence to a global investment market.”

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