BHS staff say final goodbye as city store closes

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It was the end of an era for workers at a Lancaster high street store this week.

Around 30 member of staff clocked off for the final time at BHS in Market Street on Monday, August 8 after the company went into administration in June and failed to secure a new owner.

General manager Julie Shingleton said it was a “sad day” for everyone. The Lancaster branch of BHS opened in 1971 in what was formerly Henry’s Department Store. In the early 1980s, it expanded into the first floor of the building.

Former manager Helen Coxhill, who worked there between 1984 and 2015 said: “I’ve had some great teams and staff here count their service in decades, not years.

“It was a real family. We didn’t pay any more than others on the high street, but people came to work here and stayed.”

Helen remembers Christmas at BHS following the opening of the first floor.

She said: “There was no storage space left so we had to put out our Christmas displays overnight. It was non-stop all night with everyone making sure we got it all done ready for the next morning.”

Lesley Heath, from Heysham, who has worked there for 16 years said: “It was devastating when we heard the news.

“I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else. It’s been a really happy place to work, with some very loyal staff.”

General manager Julie Singleton started working at BHS in Lancaster as a “weekender” in 1997 and went on to manage stores across the country.

She returned to manage the Lancaster branch in April.

She said: “We were hoping someone would take over the unit but we found out two weeks ago that we were definitely closing. We weren’t surprised.

“There are a lot of people who have been working here a long time, so it’s a sad day. But hopefully it will be a new start for everyone.

“We’d like to thank all our loyal customer who have shopped with us for 45 years, some of whom have come in to drop off chocolates and flowers and say goodbye.”

British Home Stores was founded in 1928 by a group of American entrepreneurs.

The company had 164 stores in the UK at the time it entered liquidation. It was bought by Sir Philip Green in 2000 and became part of Green’s Arcadia Group in 2009.

In March 2015, BHS was sold to Retail Acquisitions Ltd for a nominal price of £1 and On April 25 it entered administration. all stores will be closed by August 20, after this the business will cease to exist.