Troubled department store chain BHS has announced the first wave of store closures across the UK, as administrators continue its winding down process.
BHS confirmed that 20 stores would close on 23 July 2016, which could potentially impact around 600 jobs. The stores that are to close are South Shields, Slough, Truro, Hartlepool, Stirling, Lisburn, High Wycombe, Ashford, Clydebank, Preston, St Helens, Yeovil, Basildon, Southport, Peterborough, Newport, Stratford Upon Avon, Warrington, Wigan and Burton on Trent.
Dave Gill, of trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), commented: “We are saddened to hear the administrators for BHS have announced they are closing 20 stores, which will impact around 600 staff. We hope that other retailers, including Sir Phillip Green’s Arcadia group, will offer employment to these experienced, dedicated and loyal staff who suddenly find themselves unemployed.
“We believe there is hope for the remaining stores with the administrators continuing to seek buyers and we are still waiting to hear the details of Sir Phillip’s offer to ‘sort’ the pension scheme. In the meantime we are providing the support, advice and representation our members require at this difficult time.”
The first phase of closures follows the recent news of the administrators confirming that the BHS online and overseas part of the business was sold to the Almana Group, where it acquired 70 overseas stores for an undisclosed sum.
BHS went into administration on 25 April 2016, having reported debts of over £1.3bn, putting 11,000 jobs at risk. Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles were appointed as Joint Administrators from restructuring firm Duff & Phelps.
Recently, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) backed the appointment of a second administrator, FRP Advisory, to assist with investigations into the behaviour of former BHS directors, with the company having a pension deficit £571m.