High Street retailer BHS is due to close with the loss of around 11,000 jobs. Efforts to find a buyer for the company, which entered administration in April 2016 have proven unsuccessful, and as a result the administrators have announced that they intend to wind down the business. The well-known company, which was founded in 1928 operates over 160 stores across the UK. Formerly trading as British Home Stores, the retailer sold clothes and homeware. It is not known when the business will be wound up, though it is being reported that weaker stores are likely to close first.
Questions are being asked about both the management of the company and the management of its pension scheme. The company was owned by Philip Green, head of the Arcadia Group from 2000 to 2015, when it was sold to Retail Acquisitions. Dominic Chappell, the head of Retail Acquisitions, is a former racing driver with no retail experience. A parliamentary enquiry into the 571 million GBP pension deficit is ongoing, and is being conducted by the Business and Work and Pensions committees in the House of Commons. This is also being investigated by the pensions regulator. There have been calls for the former owner Philip Green to pay money back into the pension scheme. A separate enquiry into the collapse of the business is being undertaken by the Insolvency Service.
The collapse of BHS is one of the most high profile recent restructuring cases in the UK.
Update 15/07/2016: The first 20 BHS stores due for closure have been announced. Among the stores due for closure are Slough, Stirling, Truro, Preston, Stratford-upon-Avon and Yeovil. These shutdowns will result in the loss of about 580 jobs. Most of the employees affected will be offered redundancy packages, though it is understood that a small number may be redeployed. The stores will close on 23 July 2016. The failure of the high street store continues to be investigated in parliament with MPs due to publish their findings later in the summer.
Update 21/07/2016: Administrators have announced the next round of BHS store closures. A further 30 stores have been identified for closure. The move is likely to affect 700 employees. The vast majority will be made redundant though it is possible that some may be redeployed. The closures are expected to take place by the end of July 2016. Reports suggest that it is becoming less likely that a buyer will be found for the business.