THE flagship London store of the collapsed retail chain BHS will close on Saturday, with the brand set to disappear from the high street entirely by next weekend.
The Oxford Street branch in the West End is among 58 closing over the next eight days as administrators bring to an end to 88 years of British retail history.
Duff & Phelps and FRP Advisory have already overseen 105 closures over the past weeks, with the last of BHS’s total 163 stores scheduled to close next Saturday.
These include Doncaster, Grimsby, Huddersfield, Hull, Knaresborough, Rotherham, Wakefield, York and two each in Leeds and Sheffield.
The department store’s collapse in April has affected 11,000 jobs, 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation.
Billionaire Sir Philip Green has borne the brunt of the public fallout, having been branded “the unacceptable face of capitalism” by furious MPs.
Sir Philip owned BHS for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015. Sir Philip has come under fire for taking more than £400 million in dividends from the chain, leaving it with a £571 million pension deficit and for selling it to a man with no retail experience.
Labour MP Frank Field has asked the Serious Fraud Office to launch a formal investigation into the pair to ascertain if any criminal wrongdoing occurred during the sale of the chain and throughout their respective ownerships.
BHS was established in 1928 as British Home Stores, with a single branch in Brixton, south London. Initially, everything was sold at a shilling or less, but a year later the maximum price rose five-fold as a range of home furnishings was introduced.
By 1970, following 25 years of expansion, the chain had 94 branches and around 12,000 workers.