End of an era as final BHS stores close for good
The BHS branch within Glasgow's towering St Enoch Centre will be among the final batch of stores due to close this weekend, with the doomed retailer set to disappear from the high street entirely by Sunday afternoon.
Administrators to the department store chain are set to shut 22 stores, bringing an end to almost 90 years of British retail history.
Duff & Phelps and FRP Advisory have already overseen 141 closures in recent weeks, including BHS’s flagship Oxford Street store in London’s West End and its landmark branch on Edinburgh’s Princes Street.
The retailer’s collapse in April has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation.
Retail billionaire Sir Philip Green has borne the brunt of the public fallout, having been branded the “unacceptable face of capitalism” by furious MPs.
Green owned BHS for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015. Green has come under fire for taking more than £400 million in dividends from the chain, leaving it with a £571m pension deficit and for selling it to a man with no retail experience.
Veteran Labour MP Frank Field has asked the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to launch a formal investigation into the pair to ascertain if any criminal wrongdoing occurred during the sale of the chain and throughout their respective ownerships. It has also emerged that Field is probing Green’s Arcadia retail empire, which includes Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.
John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “Wherever the blame lies for the demise of this once great British retailer, it certainly is not with the staff who are paying a high price for corporate decisions that have led us to where we are today.
“There remains 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. In the meantime, we are providing the support, advice and representation our members require at this difficult time.”
The St Enoch store is the only one of the 22 located in Scotland, with other major outlets set to close their doors for the final time this weekend including at Gateshead’s vast Metrocentre, Belfast, Bristol, Swansea and York.