FLAGSHIP BHS OXFORD STREET STORE CLOSES AND REST TO PUT UP SHUTTERS NEXT WEEK
The doors have been locked for the final time on British Home Store’s flagship branch in central London – and by next weekend no stores will be left. The Oxford Street outlet is one of 58 closing over the next eight days as administrators call time on 88 years of British retail history.
On their last-ever shift on Saturday, workers told the Press Association of their fears as the chain’s collapse has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions.
Maira Estupinan, 39, said: “I’m very sad, for myself and everyone losing their jobs. I have worked with so many lovely people here, a lovely manager, and I’m so upset to leave.”
Inside, the shop was littered with scores of red and yellow “everything must go” style signs advertising as much as 80% off. Hundreds of last-minute customers picked over the remaining stock.
Duff & Phelps and FRP Advisory have already overseen 105 closures over the past weeks, with the last of BHS’s total 163 stores scheduled to close on August 20.
News of the store’s failure in April sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and has 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 “the unacceptable face of capitalism” by furious MPs.
Sir Philip owned BHS for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015. Sir Philip has come under fire for taking more than £400 million in dividends from the chain, leaving it with a £571 million 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.
He said: “The central concern that emerged from our inquiry was the rushed sale of a struggling high street institution to manifestly unsuitable buyers. There is no way someone with Sir Philip Green’s experience believed they were anything but.”