Empty shelves for sale as BHS store in Ipswich closes for the last time

BHS in Ipswich.

BHS in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Generations of shoppers have passed through the doors of BHS in Ipswich – but yesterday that tradition came to an end when it closed for the last time.

The store has been in its current location since the mid-1990s when it was carved out of what was originally an annex to the Buttermarket Centre.

Before then its home had been in Tavern Street, in what is now H&M.

During that time Ipswich BHS had been one of the company’s flagship stores – and it is understood to have been one of the most successful in the chain which underwent a number of makeovers over the last 30 years.

Yesterday the store was a sorry sight. Many of the shelves were bare – and were actually for sale. One of the escalators to the first floor was out of action and anyone who walked up it was greeted by even more empty space than there was downstairs.

The lighting, household goods, and most of the clothing had gone – there were no more racks of Flipback clothes that were very popular with teenagers.

Shoppers paid one last visit to the store – and were hoping to pick up some last minute bargains too.

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Sisters Josephine Rea and Sandra Mayhew, from Ipswich, were at the store with Josephine’s granddaughter Hannah Newson.

Mrs Rea said: “We’ve always liked shopping here, and we often visited the cafe, it had good food that was very reasonable, it’s a real shame to see it go. I feel really sorry for the staff.”

Her sister added: “I’ve been coming to BHS for years. I remember shopping there when it was in its old place – it had a big food department then.

“It sounds silly, but what I remember were its cheese and onion crisps! It’s really sad to think the whole lot are closing.”

Friends Pat Tolhurst and Maria Warren travelled from their homes in Felixstowe to visit the store for a final time.

Mrs Warren said: “I’m always sorry to see a retailer close – I’m in the business myself. It’s not somewhere I came all the time, but it was somewhere that was always worth looking at for household goods.”

The closure of all the BHS stores across the country follows the collapse of the company which was controversially sold by retail magnate Sir Phillip Green for £1 last year, but it collapsed under its new owners last year with a pension deficit of £570million.

He has since come in for harsh criticism in recent weeks with Lady Barbara Judge, the former chairman of the Pension Protection Fund, and Frank Field MP, who chairs the committee analysing the collapse of BHS, calling for the businessman to “write a cheque” to compensate the firm’s pensioners.

A war of words ensued, with the tycoon accusing the MP of overseeing a “kangaroo court” in his committee’s parliamentary inquiry and of trying to create a “false narrative”.

Sir Phillip is said to be in discussions with the Pensions Regulator to try to find a solution to the BHS pension scheme.

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