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A sad day for the high street as BHS rescue fails

BHS to close

The moment everyone dreaded

BHS has finally gone into administration, 13 months after being sold in a move that was meant to revitalise the iconic retailer.

Approximately 11,000 jobs are now at serious risk, including 8,000 direct employees and 3,000 contractors who work across 164 BHS stores.

BHS boss Darren Topp is thought to have told staff at the retailer’s Marylebone HQ in person as well as briefing regional managers.

The offer that never came through

A lengthy bidding process, which began when the company went into administration in April, ultimately failed to find a buyer.

Until today it was thought that the best chance for the company lay with retailer Greg Tufnell, but it is understood that the financial backing for his bid, reportedly from a Portuguese source, failed to materialise.
"Despite the considerable efforts of the administrators and BHS senior management, it has not been possible to agree a sale of the business," said the administrators in a statement.
"Although multiple offers were received, none were able to complete a deal due to the working capital required to secure the future of the company.
"Our thoughts today are with the employees. We thank them for their professionalism and hard work. We would also like to thank the great British public for helping us in our efforts to save BHS resulting in several weeks of significant sales."

A victim of “turbulent times”

"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," said Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps and joint administrator.
"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."

BHS: history of an iconic name

Ironically, it was a group of American businessmen who first set up British Home Stores in Brixton, South London in 1928. However, it was in the post-war era that the firm really took off.
By 1985 BHS was franchising its stores around the world and in 1986 it merged with Sir Terence Conran's Habitat and Mothercare to form Storehouse Plc. This is when the ‘BHS’ acronym was first used on store fascias.
In 2000, retail billionaire Sir Philip Green bought BHS, merged it into his Arcadia Empire and for a while, things looked rosy.

The beginning of the end

However, by the mid-2000s the company was already losing ground to cheaper rivals like Primark and by 2015 Sir Philip had come to the end of his patience, selling the loss-making company to Retail Acquisitions for a nominal £1.
However, it now seems that BHS was a much more wounded bird than many thought. Less than a year later, struggling under debts of over £1.3 billion, BHS filed for administration.
Sir Philip said he was "saddened and disappointed" by the company's demise, adding that he had hoped to see it sold as a going concern.

The country demands answers

Currently, there are two parliamentary inquiries into the collapse of BHS, not least into the £571 million black hole in the company’s pension fund. But for the 11,000 employees impacted by the company’s demise, this will be little comfort.

Read more: Business leader says Sir Philip Green has “moral responsibilities” >>

Resources for anyone impacted by the closure of BHS

Retail Human Resources (RHR)
RHR represent and recruit for dozens of the UK’s best-known retailers and are committed to providing a personalised service in order to find you a position which is right for you for free. Call them to discuss your career options going forward.

RHR London
Tel: 020 7432 8888

RHR Birmingham
Tel: 0121 794 0735

RHR Bristol
Tel: 0117 929 1111

RHR Nottingham
Tel: 0115 933 5958


Retail Trust
Retail Trust is a UK charity committed to improving the wellbeing of all employees in retail, offering help and support through confidential support services ranging from hardship grants to emotional support.


Beth Troake

Thursday, 2 June 2016 at 5:04pm

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