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11,000 BHS staff to lose their jobs with 200 axed in Northern Ireland as retail chain goes under

By Rachel Martin

Published 03/06/2016

Administrators announced last night that the department stores will go into liquidation
Administrators announced last night that the department stores will go into liquidation

Up to 200 workers are expected to lose their jobs with all four BHS stores in Northern Ireland set to close.

Administrators announced last night that the department stores will go into liquidation.

Administrators Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles, managing directors of Duff and Phelps, announced they would begin to wind down BHS.

In total, up to 11,000 jobs are expected to be lost across the UK as all 163 stores will close, including the chain's branches in Belfast, Holywood, Newtownabbey and Lisburn.

The department store chain went into administration in April.

Closing sales will be held in all stores in the next few weeks. The firm had traded in the UK for 88 years.

A statement from the company's administrator's read: "Despite the considerable efforts of the administrators and BHS senior management it has not been possible to agree a sale of the business. 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.

"Our thoughts today are with the employees. We thank them for their professionalism and hard work. We would also like to thank the great British public for helping us in our efforts to save BHS, resulting in several weeks of significant sales."

Mr Duffy said: "The British high street is changing and in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS is 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."

As the shutters came down at the BHS store in Belfast's Castle Junction last night, city centre shoppers had mixed feelings.

"It's awful," said Karen Stewart from Armagh "It's been here so long.

"It must be only six months since I was last in BHS - the homewares section is very good." Meanwhile, Gill McGuigan, visiting from Wigan in Lancashire, said: "It's sad that BHS is closing. " She added: "I didn't shop there very often."

Pals Katie McLernon and Amy Wilson from Lisburn said: "We've never shopped at BHS. There's nothing in it for our age group." Belfast teenagers Holly McGookin and Bethany Martin agreed: "We won't miss BHS, because we never went into it. It's not really our sort of shop."

Ulster University retail analyst Donald McFetridge said: "Administrators Duff and Phelps were unable to find a suitable buyer for the iconic brand due to problems with potential suitors not being able to demonstrate that they had sufficient working capital to invest in the company in order to ensure its survival.

"The rumours of a requisite investment of £300m of working capital seem modest to me. In my opinion, it would have taken at least twice that amount in order to give the business any sort of chance for survival in the very competitive retail fashion world where other major players are similarly struggling to keep their doors open."

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