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11,000 Jobs at Risk as BHS Fails to Find Buyer

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BHS

Another British retailer bites the dust.

BHS, the beleaguered department store chain that first opened its doors back in 1928, will shut up shop for good after efforts to find a buyer for the business failed.

Administrators Duff & Phelps, a privately-held investment firm, said in a statement Thursday that “the tireless work and goodwill of the existing management team and employees of BHS…were not enough to change the fortunes of the company.”

“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,” Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps, said.

Going-out-of-business sales will be held at all 163 BHS locations over the coming weeks and as many as 11,000 people will lose their jobs when the stores close their doors. It’s the U.K.’s biggest retail ruin since Woolworths disappeared from the high street in 2008 after a century of trading.

The 88-year-old fashion and homewares retailer, also known as British Home Stores, entered administration in April and said that business would continue as normal while it worked to find a buyer.

Sir Philip Green, chairman of Arcadia Group and Topshop titan, has been widely blamed for the part he played in the collapse of BHS. Green had owned the chain for nearly 15 years when he sold it for one pound (less than $2) in March 2015 to Retail Acquisitions Ltd., a group of investors led by the twice-bankrupt Dominic Chappell.

The retailer’s subsequent downfall a year later left behind a pension deficit that will be absorbed by a state-backed rescue fund, at an estimated cost of 275 million pounds ($396.8 million).

Earlier this week, administrators announced that 116-year-old Austin Reed would cease trading and start a wind-down of its estate. Known for its tailoring, the British retailer had also fallen into administration in April.

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