Along with the latest in the junior doctor’s strike coupled with the present impasse (discussed in an earlier blog and may do so again), the Hillsborough inquest verdict that has just been delivered (discussed in my previous blog), and the regrettable decision by the government not to take in unaccompanied minors from among the refugees currently living in camps in France, the other item of news that has been highlighted today, among many other items just as important that have not been, is the collapse of the BHS store chain.
One report begins: “BHS has officially collapsed into administration after failing to agree a last-minute deal to rescue the department store chain. The demise of the retailer, which employs 11,000 people, is the biggest failure on the high street since that of Woolworths in 2008”. It is something that affects many, especially those employed by BHS, right across the country, including in my own town, Southend, where the continuance of its BHS store is now in doubt and if it did it would leave a significant dent in the High Street, which judging overall has been going downhill for the past 2 or 3 decades. While I have never been a great BHS fan, just like with Woolworths, it is a store I have shopped in many times throughout my life and found to be at least ok.
It was interesting to listen to two people “in the know” debate the reasons for the demise of BHS, on today’s Today program as well as reports, usually uncomplimentary, of its owner, asset stripping the company to line his own pocket. I know insufficient to make a definitive comment on what happened and what should have happened but from what my sources say, there has been considerable under investment over the years and it has failed to keep up with the times by giving the public what it wants and, unlike in its heydey when it clearly met a demand at the time and could attract customers, this is no longer the case.
All this is sad and regrettable, although more philosophically it can be put down to our changing times. There is no doubt that shopping habits have changed considerably over recent years, especially as online and out of town shopping have taken off, new and quite different retail outlets have emerged which either continue and prosper if they satisfy market demands or simply fail, and of course existing stores that do continue but only as a result of adapting to the changing times. It appears that BHS have failed to do this and, while there is some hope that something can be done to turn the business around, it appears to be too little too late.
I apologize for ending on such a gloomy note but what is happening is something that saddens me. While we can’t undo what has already been done, my hope is that some good may come out of it.