13% of Woolies stores 'still empty'
More than 100 stores once belonging to defunct high street retailer Woolworths still lie vacant three years after its collapse, it has emerged.
Some 13% of the 807 former Woolies stores are empty, compared with 30% a year ago, according to a report by The Local Data Company.
Discounters (29%) and supermarkets (17%) have taken on most of the stores, but there has also been a rise in the number which have been demolished, from 1.3% in January 2011 to 8.4% this month.
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to several tranches of closures which left 27,000 people out of work.
The Woolworths vacancy rate compares with just over 14% for the rest of the UK high street.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at The Local Data Company, said: "It is encouraging to see 87% of the old Woolworths shops now occupied.
"It reflects the fact that Woolworths was once the anchor store in many centres and that the current market has enabled greater opportunity for retailers to relocate to more prime locations due to high shop vacancy rates."
Mr Hopkinson put the "significant rise" of demolished properties down to the Government's axing of empty property rates relief last April and the state of the market in locations where there is little or no retail demand.
Iceland supermarkets and discounter Poundland have been the keenest to move into the stores and have both taken over 7% of the stores. They are followed by discount shop 99p Stores, who have over 48 or 6%.
The region with the highest level of occupations is Yorkshire and Humber at 95%, while Northern Ireland has the lowest with 38% of the stores still left to find a tenant.