Friday 29th April
As a child we used to go to London about once a year, to see my mother’s mother and to do some clothes shopping. We would go to C. and A. and British Home Stores and my sister and I would get new Sunday outfits.
For years I would buy clothes for my son, and occasionally myself at either British Home Stores or Littlewoods, as the clothes were serviceable and a lot cheaper than Marks and Spencers. School uniforms were especially good as I remember. Then at some point British Home Stores became very unfashionable and started to decline. Step in, one Philip Green, who – on mostly borrowed money – bought not only BhS (as he rebranded it) but TopShop and a few other declining high street names. What we didn’t realise was that his empire was not only built on borrowed money but was not so much a rescue as a robbery. The shops did become a bit more attractive and for a few years I continued to occasionally shop there. I even got a store card, but this was because they gave a discount when you settled the monthly account by D.D.
I haven’t shopped in BhS for a few years; like everyone else I seem to have moved on. Sometimes going to Marks or Next, but actually buying T. shirts and underwear in Peacocks (half the price of Marks). We read that Sir (Durghh) Philip was paying dividends to his wife, who lives in Monaco and therefore avoiding UK taxes – but hey, this didn’t stop him receiving a knighthood and being given special status as some sort of Business genius, after all just look how he had revived the high street. A year ago he sold BhS (and it’s huge debts) for £1, to another businessman fronting another shell company of Asset Strippers who also got paid millions by BhS (still trading at a huge loss) for Consultancy services and interest on the loans they took out. And now BhS is in administration and will probably close with millions in debt and a pension fund with a huge hole in it. This is the new face of retailing – buy a failing company with borrowed money, borrow even more money and pay yourself huge dividends to off-shore companies then wring your hands a few years later when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, before absconding with millions in fees. So, bye bye BhS, you won’t be much missed, except by the staff and pensioners hung out to dry…