BHS job losses may just be tip of iceberg as store closure fears grow

7 March 2016 - Janet Bird

BHS job losses may just be tip of iceberg as store closure fears grow

BHS is to make 370 people redundant as part of a turnaround plan that could also see up to 60 stores close, leading to many more job losses.

The beleaguered department store chain, which employs more than 10,000 staff, intends to make 150 redundancies at its head office, and 220 in its stores. A further 100 currently unfilled head office posts will also be scrapped.

But these job losses may only be the tip of the iceberg if BHS makes good on its threat to close up to half its stores if landlords do not agree to reduce the rents.

The retailer has filed what is known as a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) - a type of insolvency proceeding that allows a company in financial trouble to make a deal with creditors about reducing its liabilities.

As part of the CVA, BHS is asking its landlords to reduce the rent paid on 87 of its 164 stores. It believes 47 of these stores are viable if rents are reduced to "market levels", but says the remaining 40 require rents to be substantially reduced if they are to survive.

BHS wants the rent on 21 of the 47 stores it deems viable to be cut by 75 percent, with a 50 percent reduction in rent for the other 26. And it is also asking for a 75 percent reduction in the rent it pays over the next ten months for the 40 stores most at risk while it tries to find a way to secure their future.

The proposals, which require the support of 75 percent of BHS creditors to proceed, will be discussed at a meeting on March 23.

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