One Year On: Retailers Quick to Snap Up Woolies Stores

Thursday 19th November 2009 – One year on from its demise, take-up of the former Woolworths retail outlets has reached 75%, according to latest research from CB Richard Ellis.

Of the 800 plus stores three quarters have either been let or are under offer, compared with a few months ago when 60% had been acquired.

Discount stores, grocers and fashion operators account for the majority of new occupiers. Combined they account for over 80% of the total take-up. Discount retailers, such as B&M Bargains, 99p stores and Poundland account for the greatest proportion of acquired stores (39% of the total); followed by grocery outlets, including Iceland and Tesco, (26%); and fashion operators such as Ethel Austin and Peacocks (18%).

Ciaran Bird, Head of UK Retail at CB Richard Ellis said: “A year ago the collapse of Woolworths came at a very difficult time for retailers who were feeling the full force of the harsh economic conditions. Rather than stores remaining dormant the market was quick to react to the fantastic opportunity to acquire prime retail locations in high streets and town centres across the UK.”

“A lot of the prime sites were cherry picked in the first few weeks after Woolworths went into administration, although surprisingly names such as Iceland, B&M Bargains, Home Bargains and 99p stores were the first to capitalise on the opportunity.”

“Since we first investigated what had happened to the Woolworths stores in the Summer, the number of let stores has increased by 30% as a lot of the original ‘under offer’ stores have now been let.

“Take-up of the Woolworths stores is now strong across all regions, with the North East, South West, Scotland and Wales in particular showing a marked increase in store acquisition since the original research was published.

“Whether or not branches have been acquired appears to be largely due to the relative strength of the retail destination the pitch and size of individual unit, and individual retailer requirements, rather than the geographical location.

“Of the remaining stores, the majority are in secondary locations with around 65% classified as Local or Minor District centres.”

Regional Breakdown
•Ireland - 89% let
•North East – 79% let
•Midlands – 75% let
•North West – 79%
•Scotland – 73%
•South East – 78%
•South West – 69%
•Wales – 78%.

Click here for a copy of the initial Woolworths report