We have great news for loyal BHS customers. Just one month after the store closed its doors for good, BHS announced it is reopening, but not as a bricks and mortar retailer, this time it will be online.
The hugely popular store, which closed its final department shop on 30th August this year, is set to relaunch as bhs.com. And it is making it quite clear that it has no links to any previous owners. Presumably this is a reference to Sir Philp Green, who was widely criticized for allowing to let the store fall into such debt.
Shortly after Sir Philip’s takeover in 2000 there was a big boost in sales, where in just one year pre-tax profits increased from £18.5m to £94.8m. These profits remained around £100m a year up unto 2004. However, the dividends paid out to shareholders were £414m and most of this money went to Sir Philip and his immediate family, as they were the owners of BHS.
The store went into administration in July but a buyer was not found and as such resulted in a pension deficit of £571 million for its employees.
An MP enquiry concluded in June that former owner Sir Green, alongside Dominic Chappell, who he sold the company to last year, “and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on”, which included the barrister Anthony Grabiner who oversaw the sale, were “all culpable” in its demise.
The enquiry also found that Green in particular had a responsibility to find the funds to reimburse BHS workers and pension holders of the money that they are owed.
BHS is now owned by the Al Mana Group, renamed BHS International and will launch in time for Black Friday and Christmas. The Qatari conglomerate Al Mana Group’s other clients include Zara, Mango, United Colours of Benetton and Reebok.
David Anderson, managing director of BHS International said: “We are thrilled to be relaunching this iconic brand back into the UK.”
Over 11,000 employees lost their jobs when BHS closed and the new retailer will employ those who used to work for them. It is thought that only 84 will be working for the new online site, just a fraction of the workforce.
The headquarters are London-based and the site will go live this Thursday.
“We are nimble and efficient, but with a great brand, strong customer base and a proven and dedicated team,” said Anderson.
“In addition to this, we have developed a new specially designed online platform for our UK business so we are not inheriting any legacy systems,” said Anderson.
This is in reference to the website which will allow customers to make their purchases in two clicks and on multiple devices.
Anderson added that the website would have “a number of advantages over a typical start-up”, including an “iconic” brand and a loyal customer base in the UK.
Items for sale will include around 75% of those featured in the former department stores, including lighting, bedroom, bathroom and home-furnishings.
Following the launch more items will be added to the range, including clothing, and kitchen and dining ware.
Anderson is overseeing the launch and is confident of the website’s success because of the brand and its customers:
“It had a loyal customer base with around 1.2 million British shoppers who bought from us online, and for our relaunch we have managed to secure many of the products they liked the most.”
bhs.com launches 29.9.16