Sunderland BHS staff face uncertain future after chain collapses into administration

City shop staff face an anxious wait after the failure of one of Britain's best-known High Street names.

Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 5:00 am
BHS has been a mainstay of the high street for decades. Yesterday, it was announced that the business was in administration.

BHS collapsed into administration yesterday, putting 11,000 jobs at risk and threatening the closure of up to 164 stores.

It is the biggest retail failure since Woolworths went bust in 2008.

Administrators Duff & Phelps said last-ditch talks to find a buyer for the firm over the weekend had failed, adding: “In addition, property sales have not materialised as expected in both number and value.

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“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.”

BHS will continue to trade as usual while potential buyers are sought.

The firm has debts of more than £1.3 billion, including a pension fund deficit of £571 million, which proved a major stumbling block in the rescue talks.

NUFC owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct company is understood to be interested in acquiring some stores, but will only do so if it does not have to take on any pension liabilities.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw said taxpayers should not be left to pick up the pensions bill.

General secretary John Hannett said: “The Government needs to intervene now to protect taxpayers from picking up the bill for redundancy payments and safeguarding the Pension Protection Fund.”

It is thought up to 30 other retailers may buy a slimmed-down version of the business or some stores.