One of York’s biggest empty shops has a new owner.

The former BHS store on Coney Street has been bought by an offshoot of the Sports Direct group for £10.75 million.

It will ignite hopes that new retail units might soon move into the store, which has entrances on Coney Street, New Street and Feasegate.

The deal was completed in September when SDI (York) Ltd bought the property from Lloyds Bank, but the details have only just emerged.

BHS York closed in 2016 after the group went into administration.

Many retail interests

The Coney Street entrance
The new owner, SDI (York) Ltd, is a property company set up in April 2018 for the purposes of this deal.

Its registered address in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, is the headquarters of Sports Direct International.

The company secretary of SDI (York), John Olsen, has the same role at the parent company.

But the colourful billionaire chief executive of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, is not listed as a director.

However, the fact that his company now owns this large slice of retail real estate in the heart of York, opens up several possibilities.

It may be that he plans to move city’s current Sports Direct branch from Davygate into the old BHS building.

Colourful: Mike Ashley. Photograph: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire

Another possibility is that he plans to open or move another of his retail interests into the property. The Sports Direct group bought the House of Fraser department store group in 2018 and has interests in, among others, Game, Evans Cycles and Debenhams.

And in the last 24 hours it has been reported that he is in talks to take over music retailer HMV, which went into administration last month.

‘Great news for York’

This plan shows the large footprint of the former BHS store
News of the aquisition was greeted as a vote of confidence in York city centre by Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum.

He told YorkMix:

  • This is great news for York, and shows that even with High Street’s struggling nationally, York is still the place to invest.

    It will be exciting to hear what Mr Ashley and Sports Direct have planned. It would be great to see the building back into use after such a long period of it being empty.

Following a series of shop closures in York, the possibility that this large store could return to retail use will be welcomed by many in the city.

A proposal to turn part of the unit into a Revolucion de Cuba bar was rejected by city planners last summer, following strong opposition by the police.