BHS – British Home Stores

August 29, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

PA photo



Hazel Speed

… what was its last day of trading?…

Sunday 28th August 2016.

I would like to commend, most highly, the courageous staff of this Company.

In my own nearby BHS store earlier this year, and later months, I got to know the staff very well. As a historical shopper, there were products I wished to purchase while they were still available and there was little reduction in cost so it was self evident my motive was an honourable one, something they appreciated.

It so happened I was in their London Store on the day it closed as well.

Although I did check the situation with my local store it was too painful for me to return so do not know if it closed on the above date or earlier.

Against the above backdrop I wish to put it ‘on record’ that on every occasion I visited my local store and on the day the Oxford Circus Branch closed I was astounded that every sales person and other workers showed the highest standard of professional courtesy to every customer even though their hearts must have been breaking and some may never work again given age demograph. I have never seen anything like their collective quiet dignity and in that regard they put many other obvious people to shame.

Fellow customers.

This became almost a good opportunity for political campaigners and researchers to take excellent straw polls.

It was fascinating also to note the age demograph – in the main young pensioners but also a number of older and middle-aged with a sprinkling representation of younger, and parents making the most of clothing for children.

It was also telling to see items which were not purchased as it reflected the lack of interest despite great some reductions in price. People were being sensible and pragmatic. Politicians often do not credit the voting public of such virtues.

They were in the main luxury items perhaps normally out of financial range so that also told me something else. The demograph customer knew that the era of luxury goods has long since lost its allure in an insecure world.

The customers themselves, and I never saw one exception, shopped with respect reminiscent of a post funeral reception and in a way, it was.

As I went to view the second floors at both BHS locations, they were even having to sell display items, display models from shop windows, filing cabinets, chairs, office furniture, even segments and parts of whole structures.

The Receivers probably required this but it would have been kinder to the staff just to close the shops or alternatively release the last staff still working and hire non-BHS in their place.

I went back in time to when I bought jeans, swimming costumes, blouses from BHS in 1965 and in those days they were folded in polythene bags and put onto counter displays.

Their items were always quality and fairly costed.

My local BHS used to have a smart school uniform range and their amazing and unusual Christmas gifts and displays were ones everyone looked forward to.

The staff did not know what was happening as to any breaking news until shoppers updated them. It was touching to hear customer after customer wish staff well for the future and the staff were stoic throughout, worthy of a leader taking Salute of his Troops. I will always remember these qualities of staff and customers alike as it is not sacrilegious to say these felt like hallowed moments, albeit within a commercial setting. Not strange to a Believer as God is everywhere.

I also thought The Receivers should make certain people walk through the remains of this metaphorical post-battlefield. The Impact Statement of collective BHS Staff.

Marks and Spencer should also take note – their food department may be successful but the same cannot be said by their clothing departments – (already officially referenced by their financial Returns and spoken of by them in radio discussions), so will they one day close their clothes stores in favour of selling food or online products only? Either way, the BHS story and Woolworths’ demise some years previously, must be a warning and wake-up call to them when major British commercial instititions can crumble by the flaws of others ‘on watch’.

Some last thoughts..

It made me wonder, bereft (hopefully temporarily) of a chunk of their BHS Pensions, what items did the staff buy, if any. What metaphorical carriage clock were they given in lieu of a life time’s service for many of them?

As well as the eventual reinstatement of their Pension perhaps they too should be given shared ownership of a massive luxury yacht (including maintenance thereof) to be utilised for time-share holidays in respect exclusively for former BHS Staff and Families – leaving them to decide who is to swab the decks or who they can swab the decks with!

BHS – May I leave a rose on your Corporate grave and wish Justice for all the Staff.








Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing states of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short:

Art sites:


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