Gap left by Worthing BHS store closure could be ‘difficult to fill’

The BHS store in Montague Street, Worthing SUS-160427-084101001
The BHS store in Montague Street, Worthing SUS-160427-084101001

Worthing’s town centre manager has said the loss of BHS will ‘leave a hole’ on the high street.

Sharon Clarke’s comments follow the news last week that the big brand is to be wound down.

Administrators announced they had been unable to find a buyer.

The result of which means 163 stores look set to close and some 11,000 jobs are ‘likely to go’.

Ms Clarke said: “Obviously at the moment BHS is going into a sale process so that will be around eight weeks.

“Our thoughts are with the staff and we hope they find something new.

“Staff are always the most important thing in all of these things.”

She revealed the Worthing branch measures ‘4,661 square metres, around 15,000 square feet’, and said this makes it ‘a difficult store to fill’.

Ms Clarke said: “Retail these days, because of online shopping, is very difficult.

“There is a planning policy to have nothing but retail in that heart.

“It is very early days and we will have to wait and see but we might see a challenge to that.”

She added: “A lot of people in Worthing would like to see a Primark but it would be too small for them.”

In a statement, Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles, managing directors of administrators Duff & Phelps, revealed all 163 stores will go into closing sale mode while buyers are sought for the buildings.

Across Sussex this also includes branches in Crawley, Chichester, Eastbourne, Horsham and Hastings.

It revealed ‘despite the considerable efforts’ of both the administrators and BHS senior Management ‘it has not been possible to agree a sale of the business’.

Mr Duffy, joint administrator, 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.”

The statement also said: “Although multiple offers were received, none were able to complete a deal due the working capital required to secure the future of the company.”

Mr Duffy expressed his thanks to the employees’ ‘professionalism and hard work’, and to the ‘great British public’ for their support for the ‘efforts to save BHS’ which he revealed has resulted ‘in several weeks of significant sales’.

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