BY Itrat Bashir
British Home Store (BHS), a face of the British retail sector for almost 90 years, will vanish from our high streets at the cost of 11,000 jobs, after its administrators failed to find a buyer for the departmental store.
The UK’s leading retail store, with 164 branches across the UK, had filed for administration almost a month ago after it failed to secure finances to overcome the losses. The stores’ debt stood around £1.3 billion, which include a pensions deficit of £571 million. In 2000, the BHS was bought by billionaire Sir Philip Green for £200 million, which he later sold it for just £1.
Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles, Managing Directors of Duff & Phelps (the Administrators) have announced the orderly wind down of the BHS business.
“Despite the considerable efforts of the Administrators and BHS senior Management it has not been possible to agree a sale of the business. Although multiple offers were received, none were able to complete a deal due the working capital required to secure the future of the company,” said Duff & Phelps’s spokesman.
According to him, as a result of the wind down all 163 stores will be in close down sale mode over the coming weeks and whilst continuing efforts will be made by the administrators to sell stores, the jobs of 8000 members of staff are likely to go. A further 3000 jobs of non BHS employees who work in the store’s concessions may also be at risk.
Philip Duffy, Managing Director of Duff & Phelps and Joint Administrator, said, “The British high street is changing and in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS has fallen as another victim of the seismic shifts we are seeing. The tireless work and goodwill of the existing management team and employees of BHS with the support of my team were not enough to change the fortunes of the company.”
In response to the news regarding BHS, Business Minister Anna Soubry said that the announcement that the administrators have been unable to find a buyer for the business will be devastating news for all those who work at BHS and those in the supply chain. “The government stands ready to support workers to find new jobs as quickly as possible,” she added.
The Business Secretary has already announced an accelerated Insolvency Service investigation into the activity of former BHS directors. Any issues of misconduct will be taken extremely seriously, said the Minister’s spokesperson.