Northern Ireland

BHS: About 200 jobs at risk in NI after firm files for administration

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Media captionThe high street retailer has 164 shops across the UK, including this one in Belfast

About 200 jobs are at risk in Northern Ireland after the department store chain British Home Stores (BHS) went into administration.

The company has four local stores in Belfast, Holywood, Newtownabbey and Lisburn.

They will continue to trade for now as the administrator tries to find a buyer.

The high street retailer has 164 shops across the UK putting almost 11,000 jobs at risk.

Administrators Duff & Phelps will now try to find a buyer for all or part of the 88-year old business and said BHS had "no alternative but to put the group into administration".

If a buyer is not found, it would be the biggest High Street collapse since Woolworths in 2008.

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BHS in numbers

11,000

employees

164

stores across the UK

  • £1.3bn - total debt

  • £571m - pension deficit

  • 1928 - the year BHS opened its first store, in Brixton, London

AFP

BHS is "very unlikely to meet all contractual payments" as a result of its lower than expected cash balance, the administrators said.

The company, which has debts of more than £1.3bn, decided to bring in administrators after talks to sell some of its 164 UK stores to Sports Direct collapsed over the weekend.


BHS: A history of a High Street stalwart

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption British Homes Stores first opened for business in Brixton, south London in 1928
  • 1928: A group of American entrepreneurs set up British Home Stores. The first store is in Brixton and nothing in the store costs more than a shilling (5p) - double that of rival Woolworth's maximum price of sixpence
  • 1929: BHS raises its maximum price to five shillings (25p) allowing it to sell home furnishings, including drapery
  • 1970: The firm expands steadily in the postwar era - by the beginning of the year it employs some 12,000 workers in 94 stores across the UK
  • 1985: BHS begins to franchise its brand to stores around the world, to which it supplies products and support
  • 1986: The store merges with designer Sir Terence Conran's Habitat and Mothercare to form Storehouse Plc, and the "British Home Stores" name is replaced with "BhS", then "Bhs" and eventually "BHS"
  • 2000: Retail billionaire Sir Philip Green buys BHS from Storehouse Plc for £200m
  • 2002: BHS becomes part of the Arcadia empire, controlled by Sir Philip, when he buys the clothing group and its Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brands
  • 2005: The store resurrects its "British Home Stores" branding, but it is losing ground to cheaper rivals like Primark
  • 2015: Sir Philip sells the loss-making BHS for £1 to Retail Acquisitions led by Dominic Chappell, writing off £215m of debts in the process
  • 2016: BHS begins an insolvency procedure to reduce its rents and transfer its pensions liabilities into the Pension Protection Fund, the government-supported rescue agency

It is understood any buyer would only be interested if it did not have to take on BHS's £571m pension deficit.

Last year, Retail Acquisitions, a consortium of financiers, bought BHS from the retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green for £1.

At the time, Retail Acquisitions said they would deliver £160m of funding to help turn around the fortunes of the chain, but have not been able to raise the sum.

Last month, the brand was rescued from the brink after creditors voted to accept a cut in the rent bill for about half of its stores.

Despite the rent deal, BHS warned that it needed extra funding to continue trading.

It had been due to announce a new £60m loan last week, but failed to do so.

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