What's going on at BHS in Norwich?
PUBLISHED: 14:31 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:59 25 November 2017
Archant Norfolk 2016
Hopes have been raised that one of Norwich's biggest shops could soon have a new tenant, after workers were seen inside the store.
The former BHS premises in St Stephen’s Street have been empty since the department store closed its doors for the final time in August 2016.
But eagle-eyed shoppers have spotted maintenance workers within the shop poring over plans in the past week, leading to suggestions that the building is being prepared to be let again. It is understood that a new tenant could be confirmed within days.
The 45,000 sq ft premises are among the largest in Norwich, meaning that they would be suitable for only a handful of contenders. Most major national chains already have a presence in the city, and relocation would involve significant refitting costs in such large premises.
The agent for the building, which is owned by Aviva, said in March that a deal could be concluded by Easter, though it subsequently fell through.
Just last week, it was announced the vacant BHS store in Great Yarmouth would be auctioned off, with a guide price of between £500,000 and £700,000.
The collapse of BHS in April led to the loss of 11,000 jobs, affected 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation.
Retail billionaire Sir Philip Green was branded the “unacceptable face of capitalism” by furious MPs in the wake of the failure. He owned BHS for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015.
Sir Philip has come under fire for taking more than £400m in dividends from the chain, leaving it with a £571m pension deficit and for selling it to a man with no retail experience.