Collapse of BHS another blow for South Shields shoppers

BHS store in South Shields
BHS store in South Shields

Shoppers in South Shields believe the loss of BHS is another devastating blow for the town centre.

BHS is to disappear from the country’s high streets, resulting in the loss of up to 11,000 jobs, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the retailer.

Elizabeth Drew and Jean Bailey.

Elizabeth Drew and Jean Bailey.

Shoppers remarks come after administrator Duff & Phelps announced the business will be wound down and all BHS’s 163 shops look set to close and be sold off to other retailers.

Duff & Phelps added that 8,000 permanent jobs are likely to be lost and another 3,000 not directly employed by BHS are also at risk.

Hopes had been raised that last-ditch bids from former Mothercare boss Greg Tufnell and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct could rescue the stricken retailer, but they ultimately fell short.

However, many shoppers say they’re not surprised the store in Waterloo Square has closed - as it always seems to be empty.

What will we be left with?

Peter Oliver

Elizabeth Drew, 83, from Marsden, South Shields, says it’s a shame the shop is set to close.

She said: “I am a regular customer there, but it hasn’t been the same since they started to sell all of the other brands alongside their own.

“It will be a real shame if has to closes, but it was always very empty.

“It’s worrying for the town centre as we’re just going to end up with another empty shop that can;t be filled and BHS is quite a bit site to fill.”

Jean Bailey, 79, also from Marsden, hopes a clothes shop will remain there.

She said: “I am hoping it will stay open as a clothes shop, if not by NHS then someone else.

“All we have in South Shields is charity shops and phone shops, we never proper shops too.”

Mavis Greenwood, 68, from Whiteleas, South Shields, is worried about the staff.

It’s thought up to 25 people are employed at the South Shields store.

She said: “There’s hardly any jobs as it is, what will they all do? It’s so unfair.

“I hope something can be done so they can carry on working there.

“But it always seems to be empty, especially during the week. Not just BHS mind, all of them along the stretch in Waterloo Square.

“They can’t be making much money.”

Peter Oliver, 73, from Harton, South Shields, had vested interests in the store’s potential closure.

He said: “Well it’s one less shop the wife can drag me into - so shopping trips will be quicker.

“But in all seriousness it’s terrible that the town could be loosing another major brand like this.

“What will we be left with?”

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “It is always disappointing when a business leaves the high street and we hope that the property is re-let as soon as possible by its owners.

“It is important to note this is a national issue and it will be a blow for many town and city centres across the country, not to mention the thousands of staff affected.

“Here in South Shields, we are doing all we can to make the town centre an attractive place for business. The ongoing 365 regeneration project will help to increase footfall among shoppers and visitors as we expand our offer beyond just retail to leisure and recreation.”

The administrator added that BHS will be in “close-down sale mode” over the coming weeks as it proceeds an “orderly wind-down” of the business.

Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps, said: “The British high street is changing and, in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS has fallen as another victim of the seismic shifts we are seeing.

“The tireless work and goodwill of the existing management team and employees of BHS with the support of my team were not enough to change the fortunes of the company.”