Anger as BHS staff leave South Shields store for final time

There was a mixture of anger and tears as the doomed BHS store in South Shields was cleared out.

Monday, 25th July 2016, 12:02 pm
Updated Monday, 25th July 2016, 1:04 pm
Staff clear up what has been left in store after it closed its doors on Saturday

Staff were drafted in today to help clear and tidy the premises which was officially closed to the public on Saturday.

The closure was sparked after the firm went into administration in April with debts of more than £1.3 billion - including a pension fund deficit of £571 million.

Staff who have been at the store for 11 years say goodbye

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Criticism over the handling of the firm in recent years has been directed towards former owner Sir Philip Green who sold the retail chain for £1, last year, to Dominic Chappell.

A damning Parliamentary report over the handling of BHS has also been issued today.

It claims the billionaire former owner had left the business on “life support” after extracting large sums from it.

MP Frank Field, co-chair of the BHS inquiry is calling on the Prime Minister to seek “retribution and justice” over the fiasco.

BHS store in South Shields

The three-month inquiry was carried out by MPs. The report by the Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions committees found Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on as “culpable” for the collapse.

Jean Costello, who has worked at the South Shields store since it was opened 11 years ago, said: “It’s a disgrace what has happened.

“We have all been here today clearing out the store and it is so upsetting.

“None of us want to leave as we know as soon as we walk through the doors, that’s it. There is no coming back.”

Staff who have been at the store for 11 years say goodbye

She added: “There are six of us who have been here 11 years since the store opened. It’s just so sad.

“It’s been a huge part of our lives. For some of us there has been some huge life changes but we have helped each other through them.

“We have laughed together, we have cried together and we have supported one another.”

Anger from the staff has also been directed towards Sir Philip - who is facing calls to be stripped of his knighthood over the debacle.

BHS store in South Shields

Signs have been put in the window of the store condemning his actions.

She added: “Why can’t Philip Green be held to account by the government for what he has done.

“Three of us have been lucky enough to have found new jobs but have had to be here to watch the administrators come in and take everything.

“We won some money a few years ago for all our hard work and we decided to buy a fridge with the money. They even took that.

“We are all upset and emotional but we are also angry for what Green has done.”