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Staff at stricken BHS are being paid as a 'priority'

By Staff Reporter

Published 29/04/2016

Staff at stricken retailer BHS, which has four stores in Northern Ireland, have been paid this week and will continue to receive wages as a
Staff at stricken retailer BHS, which has four stores in Northern Ireland, have been paid this week and will continue to receive wages as a "priority payment"

Staff at stricken retailer BHS, which has four stores in Northern Ireland, have been paid this week and will continue to receive wages as a “priority payment”, administrators have confirmed.

But there remain concerns that it could shut one or more of its stores here.

BHS has branches in Belfast city centre, Holywood Exchange, Newtownabbey and Lisburn.

Administrators Duff & Phelps said the chain’s 11,000-strong workforce had been paid over Wednesday and Thursday and added that it has been “working hard to stabilise the business” since its failure on Monday.

Philip Duffy, joint administrator of BHS, said they were pleased to have received “a number of expressions of interest”.

The update comes after the owner of BHS said he is working with private US investors to put together a rescue package for the collapsed retailer.

Dominic Chappell said he would look to save a “substantial majority” of the department store chain’s 164 shops and continue the business under the BHS brand.

He added: “We appreciate the hard work of staff that has ensured that stores have continued to trade as normal.

“Staff have been paid over the course of yesterday and today and we want to reassure them that they will continue to be so whilst the group remains in administration, as a priority payment.”

BHS went into administration on Monday, putting 11,000 jobs at risk.

Duff & Phelps are currently seeking buyers for the retailer as a going concern, although industry experts have expressed doubts over whether BHS can be saved in its current form.

Mr Chappell said: “The pension deficit was weighing us down and not allowing us to move forward.

“After the administration, when the pensions side of the business is sorted out, we will be able to move on.

“I’m working with US investors to buy a substantial majority of stores.”

His move came as it emerged that a second committee of MPs would investigate the chain’s collapse.

Mr Chappell acquired BHS for £1 from retail tycoon Sir Philip Green last year, taking on a £571m pension deficit.

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