Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 1st November 2018
In excess of 200 shopping centres around the UK could be at risk of falling into administration, according to at least one expert on the subject.
The assertion comes as a growing number of high street retailers struggle to stay in business and some of the country’s best known retail chains continue to close down stores in an effort to remain financially viable.
Nelson Blackley, from the National Retail Research Knowledge Exchange Centre, has told the BBC that shopping centres across the country are finding it tough to cope with the loss of “anchor stores” following strategic closures and the entry into administration of big name companies like BHS and Toys R Us.
Mr Blackley warned that there could be serious financial difficulties ahead for the owners of shopping centres, many of which are private equity firms based in the US.
He suggests also that too many shopping centres offer much the same experiences as each other and have found themselves becoming essentially unattractive to a lot of consumers.
“We have too many of them, doing exactly the same - the same range of stores and products - and basically that’s not attractive,” the retail expert is quoted as saying.
“If centres close, particularly in small towns, it will be catastrophic,” he said.
A key part of the problem for high street retailers is that they are finding it very difficult or impossible to compete successfully with online rivals.
According to Mr Blackley, there are growing concerns that the collapse of more major high street operators could soon have enormously damaging knock on effects for the owners of shopping centres throughout the UK.
Earlier this year, the department store business House of Fraser entered administration and still faces an uncertain future despite having been acquired by the owner of the sports fashion chain Sports Direct.
More recently, Debenhams revealed that it was to close 50 of its UK stores after posting an annual loss of almost £500 million.
In 2016, British Home Stores (BHS) entered administration after having been founded in 1928 and its collapse has left prime retail units unoccupied in a large number of towns and shopping centres throughout the country.