BHS to close as rescue bid fails

BHS Kirkcaldy - the first BHS to open in Scotland in 1964.
BHS Kirkcaldy - the first BHS to open in Scotland in 1964.

The administrators of BHS have today announced ‘the orderly wind down’ of the business resulting in the loss of around 30 jobs at the Kirkcaldy store.

Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles, managing directors of Duff & Phelps, the adminstrators, said that despite considerable efforts together with BHS senior management, it has not been possible to agree a sale of the business.

Although multiple offers were received, including a last-minute bid by former Mothercare boss, Greg Tufnell (Richness Group), none were able to complete a deal due the working capital required to secure the future of the company.

The directors said: “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.”

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.

Philip Duffy 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.”

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has urged administrators to look after the best interests of staff.

Dave Gill, national officer says: “Staff have been in a state of anxiety and uncertainty for over a year after the company was sold for one pound, went into administration and has now been put in liquidation.

‘‘This news is a devastating blow for the staff and the shock waves will be felt on high streets throughout the country. There are some very serious questions that need to be answered, by former owners of the business, about how a company with decades of history and experience in retail has now come to this very sorry end.

“We believe the Government has also got to take a hard look at the process of administration. Currently the law requires administrators to liquidate a company if they believe that secures the best return for creditors, regardless of whether there is an option to keep the business going and secure jobs. Now that decision has been made for BHS, we urge the administrators to comply with the law on consultation and not force the staff to seek a protective award which can result in taxpayers picking up the bill.

“There are wider concerns the Government needs to address about the future of the high street as we see yet another major player go to the wall. Very real concerns need addressing about the impact of business rates, high property rents and the much higher tax liabilities high street retailers they have over online retailers.

“In the meantime we are providing the support and advice our members in BHS require at this very difficult time.”