800 Scottish jobs at risk as BHS faces liquidation

BHS is to disappear from the high street, resulting in the loss of up to 800 Scottish jobs, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the retailer.

Administrators tried to thrash out terms for a takeover of BHS. Picture: Michael Gillen

Former owner Sir Philip Green, who is facing questions over his role in its collapse, said he was “saddened and disappointed” by the move.

In total, up to 11,000 jobs will be lost, as BHS’s 163 shops – including 16 in Scotland – close. BHS fell into administration in April, leaving behind a £571 million pensions black hole and sparking an investigation by MPs into its demise.

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Green and his family took a total of £586m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans from BHS during the 15 years he owned the high street chain. As a secured creditor to BHS, Sir Philip’s Arcadia stands to pocket up to £35m from the liquidation, depending on how much can be recovered from stores and stock.

Attention will now turn to the role of Sir Philip, and the man he sold it to for £1 last year, former bankrupt Dominic Chappell. MPs are set to quiz both men in the coming weeks.

Hopes had been raised that bids from former Mothercare boss Greg Tufnell and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct could rescue the stricken retailer, but they ultimately fell short.

Administrator Duff & Phelps said: “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.”

It added that BHS would be in “close-down sale mode” over the coming weeks as it proceeds with an “orderly wind-down” of the business.

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.”

Restructuring firm Hilco will now have the task of helping liquidate BHS’s store estate and remaining stock.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, described it as a “devastating blow to the UK high street”.

He added: “Following the collapse of Austin Reed, these recent events focus the mind on how many other traditional UK retailers are sleep-walking into administration.”