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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

BREAKING NEWS: BHS set to close after rescue bid fails

BHS stores in Ayr and Kilmarnock set to close with local Ayrshire employers set to lose there jobs after rescue bid fails

BHS is to be wound up with hundreds jobs likely to be lost across Ayrshire after administrators said they had been unable to find a buyer for the collapsed retailer.

The administrators said in a statement that while there had been multiple offers, none of them were able to complete the deal given the amount of capital needed to secure the future of the business.

It means that all 163 stores in the high street chain will be wound up with closing down sales over the coming weeks, marking a sorry end to the 88-year-old business.

A spokesman for former owner Sir Philip Green, who sold BHS for £1 last year, 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 disappearance of BHS from Britain's high streets will be the biggest retail failure since Woolworths folded in 2008 with the loss of 30,000 jobs.

Administrators Duff & Phelps will continue to try to sell off the stores but admitted that the jobs of 8,000 shop staff were likely to go, as well as 3,000 non-BHS employees who also work at the locations.

Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps, 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."

Dave Gill, national officer at shop workers' union USDAW, said: "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."

Business minister Anna Soubry said the Government stood ready to help workers find new jobs as quickly as possible. The Government has already ordered an Insolvency Service prove into the activity of former BHS directors.

The announcement of BHS's liquidation comes despite a last-minute rescue bid led by former Mothercare executive Greg Tufnell - brother of the cricketer Phil - and backed by Portuguese investors.

BHS plunged into administration in April, a year after being sold by billionaire retail mogul Sir Philip to little-known consortium Retail Acquisitions (RA). The plight of the retailer leaves the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) – the "lifeboat" funded by a levy on other retirement schemes – having to shoulder the burden of a £571m BHS pension black hole.

MPs have been sharply critical of previous owners including Sir Philip.

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, told Sky News following the latest announcement that there was a "moral vacuum" about the way firms were run and "no sense of decency".

Last month, MPs investigating the collapse heard evidence that Sir Philip's Arcadia group had been informed that the head of the RA consortium, Dominic Chappell, had a history of bankruptcy and no retail experience.

Sir Philip - who is due to appear before MPs later this month - has hit back at what he calls his "trial by media" and calls for him to lose his knighthood.

BHS's history dates back to 1928 when its first store was opened in Brixton.

The following statement below was available from the BHS liquidators

Hilco Capital’s Retail Services team has been appointed by the Administrator of BHS to assist in the operation of 164 BHS stores. Hilco’s team, which is the largest provider of these specialist services in Europe, will provide the Administrator with operational support at the BHS head office and in the stores.

Hilco Retail Services will assist the Administrators in extending the viable trading period of the store network in order to allow the administrators the opportunity to realise maximum returns for creditors.

The appointment draws on Hilco’s extensive experience of managing the operation of large scale retail businesses for retailers and insolvency practitioners in the UK and across continental Europe in both solvent and insolvent situations.

Paul McGowan, CEO, Hilco said: “Our extensive experience in the European retail sector means we are well placed to support Duff & Phelps,and we will work alongside them in this complex situation.”

If you are a staff member in Ayrshire affected by this please get in touch with us.


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