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High street prepares for final farewell to BHS

The UK high street was preparing this week to say a final farewell to BHS, the department store chain founded as British Home Stores in Brixton, south London, by a group of US entrepreneurs in 1928.

BHS on Oxford Street closed

BHS on Oxford Street closed

BHS on Oxford Street closed

Most of BHS’s 164 UK stores have already closed their doors, including the flagship on Oxford Street, which closed on 13 August, but some BHS workers were still facing uncertainty today.

Administrator Duff & Phelps has pushed back the final closure of some stores as result of high stock levels. Drapers understands stores could continue to trade for a further week from the original August 20 scheduled closure date.

Retailers including Primark, Next, Sports Direct, B&M, Poundworld, H&M and Wilko are set to confirm deals on some of the units, a source close to the situation said.

“Primark is looking at between 10 and 15 stores but they won’t all open at once because some deals are with administrators, some with the landlords and it depends on the work that needs doing to stores,” the source said.

Primark has confirmed it will open at a former BHS store at Llandudno Retail Park, but a spokeswoman declined to comment on further deals.

Sports Direct is also said to be in talks for at least one store with the administrator and others with landlords, while Peacocks is said to be considering some parts of stores, alongside Matalan and TK Maxx

“It will take around a year to 18 months to see the real good, bad and ugly of the portfolio,” said a property source. “A lot of the bad performers for BHS could be good for other retailers because they will be on new terms and may be better suited to those markets. There will be a few car crashes but on the whole these new retailers should be good for the locations.”

Drapers also understands that homeware retailers The Range and Dunelm have shown interest in taking former BHS units for their first high street locations, marking a departure from their traditional out-of-town stores.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page set up by Carolina Anderson, a former operations manager at BHS in Horsham, to share messages of support from former employees and customers has received almost than 8,500 likes and more than 11,500 mentions. 

Ian Jarvis wrote: “Proud to have spent five years in Oxford Street as deputy and store manager, worked with a great team both in the store and the Euston warehouse. Some brilliant memories and fun times. Good luck to you all.”

Jane Wisby, who worked at the Bristol store, said: “Good luck to you all for today. Make the most of the day, it will go in a flash. We closed a week ago to the public. We then had to go in to pack up and clean, and then say goodbye to people that I have known for over 30 years. A tough time.”

Maggie Botting added: “Stay strong and proud. We are Team BHS. Love and respect to all from Hastings [store] 169.”

Matalan and TK Maxx declined to comment. Next, Sports Direct, B&M, Poundworld, H&M, Wilko, Peacocks, Dunelm and The Range have not yet responded to Drapers’ request for comment.




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