Countdown to closing

Calverley House

A question mark hangs over one of the biggest stores in Tunbridge Wells following the collapse of BHS last week.

At stake are around 50 jobs and another hole in the high street, as the freehold owner admits the situation is ‘challenging’.

The Times understands staff have eight weeks left at the store.

Unlike many of the units with access to the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, the one occupied by BHS is not owned by the complex.

It is one of 12 BHS outlets where the freehold is owned by M&G Real Estate – the real estate fund management arm of Prudential – and its construction predates that of the shopping centre.

M&G stressed discussions with administrators were ongoing, but it was too early to give a clear indication of what could replace the iconic department store.

However, they did hint that other retailers were already considering taking over some of the vacant sites.

Social media reaction to the news reveals the most popular options to replace BHS are Primark and Waitrose.

A spokesman said: “This is a sad day for one of the oldest and biggest names on the high street and our thoughts are with the BHS employees and pensioners affected. We will continue to work with the company’s administrators while they manage a very challenging situation.

“As and when there is greater clarity we will be able to comment on some of the property specif-ics, however we are working with other retailers interested in stores within the portfolio in order to protect performance for our investors.”

Speaking on behalf of Royal Victoria Place, Centre Manager Nicky Blanchard said: “This is of course very disappointing and we are always keen to see every shop full. We will assist BHS staff with opportunities which may arise at any of our other stores here at Royal Victoria Place.”

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