British Home Stores
|Founded||Brixton, London (1928)|
|Headquarters||Marylebone Road, London, UK|
|Key people||Richard Price
(Chief Operating Officer)
|Products||Clothing, Homewares and Restaurant|
BHS Ltd. is a British department store chain with branches mainly located in high street locations, primarily selling clothing and household items such as bedlinen, cutlery, crockery and lighting. The company has 179 stores throughout the United Kingdom. BHS was previously a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but has been part of the Arcadia Group since 2009.
Founded in south London in 1928, British Home Stores expanded in the 1970s and 1980s including the opening of stores in the newly-developing wave of indoor shopping malls (such as The Mall Bexleyheath and Lakeside Shopping Centre). 1977 saw the firm launch a joint venture with supermarket retailer Sainsbury's to create hypermarkets using the SavaCentre brand. Sainsbury's took whole control of SavaCentre in 1989 and has more recently converted the stores to the Sainsbury's branding.
A downturn in business in the early 1980s was fought with a revamp of the stores and the selling of goods with higher profit margins. The company closed its only overseas store, in Dublin, Ireland, during this time. In 1985 the first overseas franchise store opened in Gibraltar. Such stores, not directly owned by the BHS company itself, now operate over Europe and the Middle East. In 1986, BHS merged with Habitat and Mothercare to form Storehouse plc and soon afterwards, the British Home Stores registered company name and branding across its shops was replaced with 'BhS' (later Bhs, and since reverted to the all-caps BHS, which the company used in addition to the full British Home Stores name prior to the full rebrand) and a new corporate logo. The exception was in stores that displayed a 'historic' fascia, such as Edinburgh's Princes Street, which continued to feature the British Home Stores name in its original Roman type etched into the granite shop front.
British Home Stores, like many other major retailers, has followed a trend of opening stores at out-of-town locations since the 1980s. A notable example is the two-level store at Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands (which formed part of an Enterprise Zone). This store opened on 14 November 1989. It ultimately replaced the store in nearby Dudley, which closed in June 1990 as a result of a sharp fall in trade since the opening of the Merry Hill store. The nearby West Bromwich store also closed around the same time, its fortunes affected by the Merry Hill development as well as smaller developments around nearby Oldbury which started with the SavaCentre hypermarket in 1980.
Takeover by Philip Green
In the mid-1990s the brand saw a further re-invention under guidance from retail design house '20:20'. The new look was showcased with the launch of the 'millennium concept' shopfit initially at the Grafton Centre, Cambridge (now simply called the Grafton) during 1995. With its softer Bhs 'signature' logo and warm interior lighting the concept attempted with varying degrees of success to meet the needs of the modern, more sophisticated (female) shopper. During the late 1990s the stores which formed Storehouse Plc fell on hard times, BHS and Mothercare being the worst affected. Following a number of years tough trading Philip Green bought BHS from Storehouse Plc in May 2000 for £200 million. He then changed the company from public (Plc) to private (Ltd). In 2002 Green then went on to acquire the Arcadia Group of high street retailers; which includes Topshop, Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis among others, to form Britain's second largest clothes retailer, after Marks and Spencer. Alan Smith, chairman of Storehouse at the time of the Bhs sale commented "He [Philip Green] had a crystal-clear vision and strategy. He had the guts to do the deal, to make it work when nobody else thought he could."
Return to British Home Stores
In May 2005, Philip Green, owner of BHS, purchased Etam UK from its French owner, Etam Development. The Etam UK brands included "Etam", "Amelie May", and "Tammy". The girls' fashion retailer Tammy was the strongest brand in terms of sales and consumer recognition. For this reason, and to help improve girls' perception of BHS as a whole, from early September 2005 stand-alone stores were closed and the brand integrated into BHS stores.
In 2005, BHS resurrected its 'British Home Stores' fascia more than 20 years after it had disappeared from the UK high street. The move followed the purchase of several former Allders at Home sites from the defunct department store chain. Except for the Broughton Park site in Broughton, these projects were designed purely to build upon the success of the homewares & lighting that BHS stores currently offered and to tap into new areas of business such as furniture, curtains, rugs, and wall art. Brands sold included Denby, Maxwell Williams, Typhoon, Brabantia, Terence Conran and Jasper Conran.
In early 2006, Philip Green considered a sale of the business, contacting rivals including Asda and Debenhams. A joint venture was also considered as an option alongside an outright sale, but did not progress due to the tough condition of the market at the time.
On 30 May 2007 there were rumours of talks with Icelandic retail investor Baugur regarding a sale of the chain and that Green was hoping to raise around £450m from selling the chain which would then be used towards the continuation of Arcadia's Topshop international roll-out. Analysts said Green was in a dilemma over whether he should sell the chain to rivals of his other Arcadia chains.
Chichester was the first of the former Allders sites to be refurbished, and by 2006 the success of the 'Home Stores' rollout was extended to the larger high street stores. By October 2008 the success of the Home Stores format had rolled out to 25 dedicated Home Stores, with Thanet being the latest addition, opening in October 2009.
On 27 February 2009, it was announced that the company would be integrated into the Arcadia Group. Central support functions will merge and selected BHS stores will now house selected Arcadia brands; for example, in July 2009, BHS stores in Solihull in the West Midlands and Bexleyheath in South London both opened Evans and Wallis concessions. In August 2009 Canterbury opened Wallis and Evans concessions within the store. Other stores with Arcadia insertions include Tunbridge Wells, Oxford, Peterborough, Watford, Kilmarnock, Nottingham, Camberley, Norwich and Aberdeen.
In 2010, BHS changed its logo, resurrecting the uppercase form of the abbreviation that had not been used since the Storehouse rebrand and the later rebrand in the 1990s. In addition, a new e-commerce website was launched, as well as a new store design that has gradually been introduced across the estate. As part of the Arcadia integration programme, Yeovil opened in-store concessions of Wallis, Evans, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, and then other stores followed. Mike Goring was appointed Managing Director to the chain in May 2009 and in July, Jacquie Gray was appointed Creative Director.
BHS is split up into nine regions. Each region is headed by a regional manager, and the top 22 stores known as 'Flagships' have a general manager. All other stores have a store manager, commercial managers, sales floor managers, operational managers, lead associates (team leaders) and associates. Bigger stores also have a visual manager.
The company's head office is in Marylebone, London, and there are a number of administration offices across the UK. BHS' distribution centre is at Atherstone, Warwickshire and is managed by Spectrum for Arcadia Group. Web-based orders are also dispatched from there by Hermes.
In April 2006 BHS acquired another site next to the Marylebone office. North West House opened in May 2007 after an extensive refurbishment. The new building now houses Homewares & Christmas departments, Marketing, Visual Merchandising, Human Resources, International & Finance. Clothing divisions remained in Marylebone House.
In May 2009 the Arcadia merger saw changes at the Euston Road office with support functions including Pensions, Loss Prevention, Property, and Design & Construction moving to Arcadia's office Colegrave House, on Berners Street, London. By March 2011 the two remaining departments International and Food Service also moved and the Euston House offices were closed.
The BHS brand has been franchised since 1985 to stores around the world and, although they are not directly owned, products and support are supplied by BHS. The Tammy brand is now available as a separate franchise. In early 2006 a new franchise "Bhs Kids" was launched in the Middle East. Bhs Kids carries a large number of best selling children's lines from Bhs stores.
BHS was the first high street retailer to open in Moscow, in 1995. The £3 million venture was the largest in the international portfolio and was quickly followed by the opening of a second store in St Petersburg. In 1998 stores opened in Uzbekistan and Kazakstan. The Middle East remained the key focus, with stores in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. By 2000 the chain also had stores in Greece, Tenerife, Gibraltar, Malta and the Far East. In 2011, a store in Armenia opened. A franchised concession opened in the Falkland Islands on 1 February 2013.
- Mary Portas (24 June 2010). "Shop! Mary Portas at Bhs". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- The Sainsbury Archive: Savacentre
- "Fashion Mission". Fashionmission.nl. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- "Bhs Ltd: Initial Submission" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- David Lawson
- Davies, Megan (29 August 2002). "Green ups bid for Arcadia to £775m". London: Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- The celebrity world of the high street shopping lord
- "Green snaps up Etam fashion chain". BBC News. 8 April 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- "British Home Stores returns". Propertyweek.com. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- Lucy Farndon (3 March 2006). "Green's Bhs sale comes to nothing". Thisismoney.co.uk. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Green may sell Bhs to concentrate on Topshop". Thisismoney.co.uk. 30 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- The Mall Bexleyheath website on Wallis/Evans move[dead link]