Eastbourne’s retail and business community is rallying round to help staff at BHS find new jobs as the store faces closure this summer.
The move comes after administrators to BHS announced that all 164 stores would close after they failed to find a suitable buyer for the department store chain.
During that process, BHS stores will remain open, as stock is sold off, with estimates that this could take up to eight weeks. When the stores do close, some 11,000 jobs are likely to be lost – with 38 of those in Eastbourne.
In an initiative led by Eastbourne Arndale Centre Manager Bill Plumridge, key organisations are trying to match staff in the store with current job vacancies.
After the announcement was made, Bill approached store manager David Andrews for a list of roles and hours so that staff could be matched with vacancies in other stores in the Centre.
Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and the Healthy High Street Team are also surveying vacancies available in the town centre that may be suitable to BHS employees.
Bill said, “The closure was devastating news for the staff, the Centre and the town. BHS has been part of the Arndale Centre since it was built 36 years ago and is one of our largest stores. By getting details of the store’s staff out to local employers, hopefully this will help the team to find work more quickly.”
A spokesperson from the Healthy High Streets team, said, “It’s important for the town to come together at a time like this. Already we’ve had employers alerting us of vacancies that might be suitable. I’d urge any other employers to make contact if they feel they may have jobs.”
Christina Ewbank, Chief Executive of Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Chamber and its members are working closely with the Arndale Centre to help all BHS loyal staff find new jobs in the town and I’m sure the space in this prime location will be snapped up in no time and will provide more jobs in the near future.
“The Eastbourne store recently underwent an attractive rebrand and refurbishment so it is a real shame that it will be closing in a matter of weeks. If ever there was a time to ‘Buy Local’ this is it. The more people who buy exclusively on-line, the more likely they are to condemn local shops to a slow death.”
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