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Workers at 57 BHS stores given stay of execution

Published 16/08/2016

The collapse of BHS has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions and sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry
The collapse of BHS has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions and sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry

Thousands of BHS workers have been given a stay of execution after it emerged that the department store chain's remaining 57 shops will be kept open longer than planned.

Administrators to the retailer had put a deadline of August 20 for all outlets to close, but this has been provisionally extended to August 28, although it is possible that this date could also be pushed out.

Duff & Phelps and FRP Advisory will keep the stores open until stock has run out as they look to maximise returns. Workers will continue to be paid until the stores close, after which they will be made redundant.

The administrators have already overseen 106 closures over recent weeks, with the latest being BHS's flagship Oxford Street store on Saturday.

The firm's collapse in April has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and 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 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.

David Gill, of shop workers' union Usdaw, said: "The remaining BHS staff are going through the difficult and heart-breaking task of dismantling stores that many of them have been in for most of their working lives.

"Wherever the blame lies for the demise of this once-great British retailer, it certainly is not with the staff who are paying a high price for corporate decisions that have led us to where we are today.

"Sir Philip Green needs to honour the two promises he made to BHS staff and pensioners after the company went into administration. Firstly, to offer employment within the Arcadia Group to the blameless, dedicated and loyal staff who suddenly find themselves unemployed. Secondly, to 'sort' the pension scheme - we are still waiting to hear the details of what he proposes."

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