VIDEO: Jobs fears for BHS staff as retailer goes into administration - but no one to blame says owner
Struggling retailer BHS has filed for administration putting jobs at risk.
Insolvency firm Duff & Phelps has officially announced that BHS has entered administration.
The action comes after the retailer failed to find a buyer for its business or property assets.
The move threatens about 11,000 jobs nationally including up to 50 at its store in Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre, where it has also just opened a food store.
But administrators Duff & Phelps say the group will continue to trade as usual while a buyer is sought.
A statement from Duff & Phelps reads: “The group has been undergoing restructuring and, as has been widely reported, the shareholders have been in negotiations to find a buyer for the business. These negotiations have been unsuccessful.
“In addition property sales have not materialised as expected in both number and value. Consequently, as a result of a lower than expected cash balance, the Group is very unlikely to meet all contractual payments.
“The directors therefore have no alternative but to put the group into administration to protect it for all creditors.
“The group will continue to trade as usual whilst the administrators seek to sell it as a going concern. Further announcements will be made as appropriate in due course.”
John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said: “This is devastating news for the employees of BHS and we urge the company to change their attitude to trade unions and begin a dialogue with us at this difficult and worrying time.
“We also urge the administrators and the company to comply with the law, consult with staff and Usdaw as the union for BHS workers.
“We don’t want to see BHS staff locked out of discussions, sent to the back of the queue of creditors and treated like fixtures and fittings, as happened at Woolworth’s.
“The Government needs to intervene now to protect taxpayers from picking up the bill for redundancy payments and safeguard the Pension Protection Fund.
“We are in touch with our members working in BHS to reassure them that we will provide the support, advice and representation they require.”
BHS owner Dominic Chappell has previously said that no one is to blame for the firm’s collapse.
He said: “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,” he told the Press Association,
He added that he will continue to work with the administrators Duff & Phelps to “find a solution post the administration”.
BHS was bought last year by a consortium called Retail Acquisitions, headed by Mr Chappell, for £1 from retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green, the owner of the Arcadia retail empire.
BHS has debts of more than £1.3 billion, including a pension fund deficit of £571 million. Sir Philip is reported to have offered £80 million towards the cost of BHS pensions, though the regulator could still pursue further payment from the retail billionaire.
Sir Philip bought BHS for £200 million in 2000.
Rival retailer Sports Direct is understood to want to some of BHS’s 164 stores, but will only do so if it does not have to take on any pension liabilities.