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The shutters on the BHS store in Ashford's County Square are set to come down for the last time

By Express reporter

Ashford's BHS store is preparing for its last day of trading.

The County Square store will shut its doors for the final time at 5.30pm on Saturday after more than a decade in the town centre shopping centre.

A closing down sale has been taking place for the past few weeks, with even mannequins, clothes racks and display stands being sold off.

All the fixtures and fittings of Ashford's BHS store are also being sold
All the fixtures and fittings of Ashford's BHS store are also being sold

The store's upstairs cafe closed on July 10.

There is no news as to who might take over the large two storey premises once BHS disappears but many would love a national chain like Primark to move in.

The Ashford store held a countdown to its closure
The Ashford store held a countdown to its closure

Last month, administrators announced they had failed to find a buyer for the ailing retail chain, and would be closing all 163 stores. Other Kent sites to close include Gravesend, Hempstead Valley, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, with the loss of more than 11,000 jobs altogether nationwide.

When the company went into administration in April, administrator Duff and Phelps said multiple offers were received but none were able to complete a deal that met the capital needs of the business, which has a pension deficit of more than £570 million.

Joint administrator Philip Duffy said: “The British high street is changing and in these turbulent times 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.”

Fancy a mannequin? The remains of the Ashford BHS store are being sold
Fancy a mannequin? The remains of the Ashford BHS store are being sold

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) said it was “deeply saddened” BHS stores were now starting to close.

Dave Gill, national officer of Usdaw, which has more than 440,000 members, said: “We are saddened to hear the administrators for BHS have announced they are closing 20 stores, which will impact around 600 staff.

“We hope that other retailers, including Sir Phillip Green’s Arcadia group, will offer employment to these experienced, dedicated and loyal staff who suddenly find themselves unemployed.

“We believe there is hope for the remaining stores with the administrators continuing to seek buyers, and we are still waiting to hear the details of Sir Phillip’s offer to ‘sort’ the pension scheme.”

Ashford's former Littlewoods store became the BHS premises
Ashford's former Littlewoods store became the BHS premises

Mr Gill added: “In the meantime we are providing the support, advice and representation our members require at this difficult time.”

A further 30 BHS stores across the country are due to close on July 30.

What do you think of the closure of BHS? Are you one of the Ashford BHS employees losing your job? If so please email us at kentishexpress@thekmgroup.co.uk or call our newsroom on 01233 623232.

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