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Issue #1734      June 8, 2016

Closure hits 11,000 jobs

Britain’s High Street lost its second big name last week with the announcement that BHS will go into liquidation at the cost of 11,000 jobs. The shutters were immediately brought down at some of the company’s stores, as the company’s debt levels scuppered a rescue deal.

BHS’s collapse comes days after menswear retailer Austin Reed announced it was closing. Shopworkers’ union Usdaw national officer Dave Gill said “some very serious questions” needed to be answered about BHS’s former management.

He said: “This news is a devastating blow for the staff and the shock waves will be felt on high streets throughout the country. We believe the government has also got to take a hard look at the process of administration.

“Currently the law requires administrators to liquidate a company if they believe that secures the best return for creditors, regardless of whether there is an option to keep the business going and secure jobs.

“Now that decision has been made for BHS, we urge the administrators to comply with the law on consultation and not force the staff to seek a protective award which can result in taxpayers picking up the bill.”

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green told the press he was “saddened and disappointed” with the outcome of the negotiations, despite having sold the company for a mere £1 back in 2015.

The Topshop mogul is currently set to appear before a Commons business select committee inquest in a couple of weeks. Shadow business minister Bill Esterson said that Labour’s thoughts were with all BHS workers losing their jobs.

Turning to Mr Green, the Sefton Central MP said: “The staff will want answers about how things went so badly wrong on his watch. But given the similarities with the collapse of other retail giants, such as Comet, they will also want to hear what the Tory government is doing to support the great British high street.”

As the shutters of south-east London’s Surrey Quays BHS store went down, a staff member reportedly found out from a journalist what was happening.

His reply was an appropriate: “Oh fuck.”

Morning Star

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