A BIDDING war among builders could be triggered after the collapse of the House of Sher cash and carry in Glasgow.
As exclusively revealed in yesterday's Evening Times, the business in Wallace Street, Tradeston called in the administrators with debts of around £1million.
The four-storey property in the South Side will be sold, leading to speculation the substantial building will be reborn as luxury apartments.
Conversion work would be costly but council planners have not ruled out a potential switch from business use to residential in an area currently home to modern flats.
A council spokesman said: "The future use of the building will be up to the owners but there have been a number of examples of properties changing status from commercial to residential in this part of the city over recent years."
Sources say most of the debt is owed to the Sher Group which runs a number of firms.
Operating as a subsidiary, the House of Sher was launched by one of the city's oldest Asian families in 1985. The family has had a presence in the city since 1936.
Initially it sold upmarket DIY equipment and fancy goods and generated a huge customer base. Seven years later it expanded into bulk food. But the recent global economic downturn had a major impact.
The business was badly hit as consumers reined in spending and this week House of Sher became a victim of 21st- Century shopping trends.
A family spokesman admitted: "Online shopping has killed the business.
"There were no customers coming in and with a rates bill of £100,000 due in March the owners decided to cease trading."
Frantic attempts were made in recent years to save the business. While the Sher Group pumped thousands into the company, the owners closed off a number of floors to compensate for fewer customers.
The spokesman said more than 40 staff were made redundant last year.
Administrator Ian Wright has been appointed by the directors to manage the affairs of the firm.
Mr Wright, managing director of Glasgow-based insolvency practioners WRI Association, told the Evening Times he plans to try to find a buyer for the building and existing stock.
He added: "House of Sher is a well-regarded business in Glasgow and has been part of the retail fabric of the city for almost three decades.
"However, there have been historic issues regarding property transactions, and legal actions relating to a number of these transactions and the costs associated with these legal proceedings have resulted in a shortage of working capital.
"The company has also been affected by the economic downturn and the reduction of footfall caused by the growth in online competition.
"We will now take steps to sell the assets of the company to realise as much as we can for the benefit of creditors."
MR Wright warned that the business community faced hefty financial burdens with the introduction of a new rates relief of just 10% compared to the previous figure of 50%.
Online shopping has claimed more high profile victims since Christmas.
The HMV music store chain called in the administrators earlier this month threatening hundreds of jobs across Glasgow the west of Scotland.
And less than two weeks ago camera retailer Jessops axed more than 1300 workers when it shut shop on Britain's high streets after trading since 1935.
Seven firefighters were killed in 1972 after a fire ripped through a cash and carry warehouse owned by the Sher Brothers in Kilbirnie Street, also in Tradeston.
Boxes of stock collapsed trapping fireman James Rook, 29, in the burning loft.
A first attempt to rescue him failed, leaving Divisional Officer Andrew Quinn, 47, facing the agonising decision of abandoning James or staging a second rescue bid.
DO Quinn made the call to try to free the trapped firefighter. With him went Leading Fireman Alastair Crofts, 31, and firemen Iain Bermingham, 29, Allan Finlay, 20, William Hooper, 44, and Duncan McMillan, 25.
While the men were forcing their way to free James, a smaller fire suddenly grew into an inferno.
Tragically, the upsurge of heat blocked the group's exit and all were killed.
The fire was so damaging that the premises were demolished.
And in 2001 a fire at the firm's rebuilt Kilbirnie Street warehouse forced it to shut down for four months.