Job fears as BHS enters administration

A BHS store
A BHS store

Staff at St Helens’ BHS store face a nervous wait to find out if they will keep their jobs after the crisis-hit retailer went into administration.

Around 11,000 jobs are under threat at the company, which has been trading for 88 years and has 164 stores nationwide including the one in the Church Square Shopping Centre.

The firm is believed to be more than £1.3bn in debt, including a pensions deficit of £571m, though owner Dominic Chappell has said it is impossible to pin blame on anyone for the situation.

Stores are trading normally while administrators Duff and Phelps search for a buyer.

Mr Chappell led consortium Retail Acquisitions which last year bought BHS for £1 from Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire.

Mr Chappell told the Press Association: “No one is to blame. It was a combination of bad trading and not being able to raise enough money from the property portfolio.

“In the end, we just couldn’t reach an agreement with Arcadia over pensions.”

Questions are now being asked of Sir Philip, who bought BHS for £200m in 2000, with comments online criticising him for buying another superyacht as thousands of employees wait to find out if they will keep their jobs.

He is reported to have offered £80m towards the cost of BHS pensions, though the regulator could still pursue further payments from the billionaire.

Talks have also held with Sports Direct over the rival retailer purchasing some of the stores.

Union Usdaw called the move into administration “devastating news” for employees and urged the company to open dialogue.

The union’s general secretary also called on the Government to intervene to ensure taxpayers do not end up footing the bill for redundancy payments.