Thursday, 2 June 2016
Try to get yourself a bargain, girl
It used to have a major presence on the high street in practically every town in the UK, and provided a shopping experience beloved of Mums and Aunties everywhere. Selling everything from lighting to bedding to comfy slacks and slippers, British Home Stores was always a bit of a contradictory business: never fashionable, yet never quite as "good" as its number one rival Marks & Spencer (certainly not in my Nan's opinion); and its archetypal "Britishness" belied the fact that it - like another dearly departed British staple Woolworth's - was actually founded by an American businessman; despite its name, its produce, particularly in latter years, was hardly a showcase of UK manufacture.
It's had a chequered history in retail success, and in in employment terms too. In 1975 British Home Stores sacked openly gay trainee Tony Whitehead, and gay rights campaigners picketed their shops.
Today, the announcement came that no buyer has been found for this bankrupt behemoth, so it looks likely to be the death-knell for the BHS brand - which will leave some (more) large holes in town centres to be filled by the usual crap like McDonalds or Costa Coffee. Truth be told, the way that BHS [even that shortening of its name made me cringe] tried and failed so often to keep up with the times meant it began to lose its core customer base of house-proud types in search of affordable quality, and at the same time never widened its appeal to younger, more modern shoppers. The fact its prices were extortionate in comparison with newer competitors such as Primark didn't exactly help. Nor has a succession of profit-skimming owners, but that's another matter.
RIP BHS. Even if we were never regular shoppers in your aisles, we'll miss you.
Here's an appropriate number from The Captain and Tennille: