‘Put staff first’ call as BHS shockwaves strike county

The BHS store in Fishergate
The BHS store in Fishergate
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Union leaders today demanded answers over the demise of BHS – and urged administrators to put staff first.

Scores of Lancashire workers are set to lose their jobs after a buyer could not be found for the troubled high street retailer.

BHS has flagship stores in Fishergate, Preston, and Church Street, Blackpool.

Both are likely to be sold once the stores have been run down.

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw urged administrators to look after the best interests of its staff.

Dave Gill, Usdaw National Officer said: “This news is a devastating blow for the staff and the shock waves will be felt on high streets throughout the country.

“There are some very serious questions that need to be answered, by former owners of the business, about how a company with decades of history and experience in retail has now come to this very sorry end.”

He added: “There are wider concerns the Government needs to address about the future of the high street as we see yet another major player go to the wall.

“Very real concerns need addressing about the impact of business rates, high property rents and the much higher tax liabilities high street retailers they have over online retailers.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “BHS has been in the DNA of UK high streets for decades and it is regrettable that the closure will have a damaging impact on so many of its workforce.

“I am confident that Preston’s economy is strong enough to present new opportunities for many of those workers who have lost their jobs.”

MPs from the business and pensions select committees are investigating the collapse of BHS, which did not recognise trade unions.

As a secured creditor to BHS, former owner Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia company stands to rake in up to £35 million from the wind-down, depending on how much can be gleaned from the property and stock.

The tycoon sold BHS to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell for just £1.