The rescue bid for BHS has fallen at the final hurdle, with administrators Duff & Phelps failing to secure a buyer for the high street chain.
Workers at the chain’s headquarters on London’s Marylebone Road were called into a meeting at 2pm today to be told the news. BHS employs around 8,000 people and has 163 stores across the UK. There are a further 3,000 people on contracts but not directly-employed by BHS whose jobs are at risk.
Hopes were pinned on the Richess Group, a consortium backed by a wealthy Portuguese family and led by Greg Tufnell, working alongside Nick de Scossa, a Swiss banker, and José Maria Soares Bento, but the administrators said a deal could not be reached.
“Although multiple offers were received, none were able to complete a deal due the working capital required to secure the future of the company,” said Duff & Phelps.
Other parties interested in the business over the past few weeks included John Hargreaves, the founder of Matalan and owner of Select Cafer Mahiroglu, Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day, who acquired the Austin Reed brand earlier this week, and a fourth bidder – thought to be a European retailer and a finance house.
In April BHS appointed Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles, managing directors of Duff & Phelps, as joint administrators after attempts to find a buyer for the ailing department store chain failed.
BHS was sold to consortium Retail Acquisitions led by three-time bankrupt Dominic Chappell in March last year for £1.
Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps and joint administrator, said “The British high street is changing and in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS has fallen as 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.
”Our thoughts today are with the employees,” added a spokesman. “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.”