Shoppers fear the imminent closure of BHS will leave a “huge void” in Hartlepool.
The retailer is to disappear from the high street, resulting in the loss of up to 11,000 jobs, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the retailer.
Administrator Duff & Phelps announced the business will be wound down and all BHS’s 163 shops will close and be sold off to other retailers.
Duff & Phelps added that 8,000 permanent jobs are likely to be lost and another 3,000 not directly employed by BHS are also at risk.
Hopes had been raised that last-ditch bids from former Mothercare boss Greg Tufnell and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct could rescue the stricken retailer, but they ultimately fell short.
The administrator added that BHS will be in “close-down sale mode” over the coming weeks as it proceeds an “orderly wind-down” of the business.
Closing it will be a big blow, because it brings people into the townCarol Green
Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps, 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.”
Hartlepool’s BHS is based in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, and shoppers there have told of their fear for the future after it closes.
Carol Green, a regular visitor to the town from Yarm, said: “BHS tries to cater for everyone, but the youngsters tend to go for cheaper shops and older people don’t buy as many clothes.
“Closing it will be a big blow, though, because it brings people into the town.
“It will be a real shame for the town, and I’ll certainly miss it.
“That said, shopping trends are changing, with people buying out of town and online, and maybe that’s the way things are going.”
Ann Stanbridge, from Hartlepool, added: “I’m not happy about it.
“BHS offers a mixture as a department store, and has most of what you need.
“Unfortunately, though, the one here hasn’t been used enough, and people seem to shop more in Middlesbrough and Peterlee.”
Ruth Turner said: “It’s very sad to hear that it’s going to close.
“It’s a very important store for this shopping centre, and losing it will leave a huge void.”
Dr Hugh Turner added: “I think it will have a big effect, and it’s a real shame.”
Geoffrey Faint, from Hartlepool, said: “It’s a great shame that BHS is going.
“It will leave a massive hole in the centre of Middleton Grange – a big void – and it will be interesting to see what replaces it.”
A spokesperson for LaSalle Investment Management said on behalf of Middleton Grange: “Following the BHS announcement this week, we are looking at a variety of options to ensure that we maintain the quality of the retail offer in our centres.
“We are currently working through the different scenarios to achieve a long term solution for all involved.”