38 jobs to go with closure of BHS store

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Thirty-eight jobs are to go at BHS in Abbeycentre as the shutters come down for the final time at the retail chain’s stores across the UK.

Administrators Duff & Phelps have confirmed that the BHS branch at the Longwood Road retail complex will shut this Sunday, July 31.

The department store group went into administration in April this year, leaving a £571m pension deficit. The collapse of the business has since been the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.

The Times contacted employees at the Abbeycentre branch this week, but they said they had been advised not to speak to the media. However Raymond Neal, area organiser for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), says staff at the store are “devastated”.

“Staff have been advised not to be talking about the closures. They’ve been told that it will be taken very seriously if they talk about the closures with the media or with customers,” he said.

“They are devastated that the store is closing and very angry about how this has been allowed to happen. They have seen the publication of the parliamentary report which shows how the business was systematically run down - there was no investment in the stores and staff could see that the writing was on the wall over the last couple of years.”

Usdaw, which represents around 30 employees at the Abbeycentre BHS outlet, is hopeful that its members won’t be out of work for long.

“As a large retail union what we do is work with all the major stores and we have asked them where possible to try to secure employment for our members,” Mr Neal added. “We have also been in contact with MPs to ask them to hold Sir Philip Green (the former owner of BHS) to his word that he will try to redeploy any eligible staff within the Arcadia Group, which includes Dorothy Perkins, Burton and other major stores.”

Thousands of BHS staff across the UK are facing redundancy as the administrators move in to close the company’s remaining stores.

According to Duff & Phelps, all outlets are expected to cease trading by Saturday, August 20.

The parliamentary report into the collapse of BHS describes the demise of the business as “a tragedy for the ordinary employees and pensioners”, branding the situation “the unacceptable face of capitalism.”

Meanwhile, Abbeycentre Manager Mark Stewart said he couldn’t make any comment on whether or not another retailer has been lined up to take over the BHS unit, but stressed he is “confident about the future” of the shopping centre.