British Home Stores
|Founded||Brixton, London (1928)|
|Headquarters||Marylebone Road, London, UK|
|Products||Clothing, Homeware, Electronics, Furniture, Entertainment, Groceries, Beauty & Fragrance and Restaurant|
|Owner||Retail Acquisitions Ltd.|
Number of employees
|Slogan||"Modern Living, Made Easy"|
BHS, (formerly British Home Stores until 1986), is a British department store chain with branches mainly located in high street locations, primarily selling clothing and household items. In recent years, the company has begun to expand into furniture, electronics, entertainment, convenience groceries and, most recently, fragrance and beauty products. The company has 171 stores throughout the United Kingdom, and 88 franchise stores internationally.
BHS was previously a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but was bought by Sir Philip Green in 2000 and taken private. The company became part of Green's Arcadia Group in 2009. On 12 March 2015, BHS was sold to the consortium Retail Acquisitions Ltd for the nominal value of £1.
British Home Stores was started in 1928 by American Entrepreneurs who wanted to follow the successful model set by Woolworths. They did not want go into direct competition with Woolworths, so set their highest price at a shilling. The First store opened in Brixton, but by 1929 the price limit had been lifted to 5 shillings to allow for the business to offer more goods.
The business expanded by opening further branches, all offering small cafeterias and grocery departments, and in 1933 the business went public. After the war the business continued to grow, and by the end of the 1960s had 94 stores nationwide.
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 Broadway Shopping Centre 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 Group 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.
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.
Mike Goring was appointed Managing Director to the chain in May 2009 and in July, Jacquie Gray was appointed Creative Director. Following this, 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.
Mike Goring left BHS in 2012, taking up the position of Retail Director for Debenhams  whilst Jacquie Grey departed in 2014. Following Mike Goring's departure, former Marks and Spencer Menswear Trading Director, Richard Price was appointed Managing Director.
In January 2015, Sir Philip Green confirmed he was considering selling the company following sustained losses, and that he had received a number of approaches.
On 12 March 2015 it was announced that BHS had been sold to Retail Acquisitions for the nominal value of £1.It was also announced that Richard Price was confirmed to have left his post as Managing Director for a position with the clothing arm of Tesco and former BHS COO Darren Topp was confirmed as the interim Chief Executive.
Within its stores, BHS primarily sells clothing and household items. In recent years, the company has begun to expand into furniture, electronics, entertainment, convenience groceries and, most recently, fragrance and beauty products. In August 2014, BHS opened two 'Perfume Shops' as part of a new trial into beauty and fragrance products in its Watford and Meadowhall stores.
With the takeover of a number of Alders stores in 2006, BHS began to open dedicated 'Home' using the company's original name of 'British Home Stores'. Theses stores sold a full range of BHS homeware products, accompanied by a new furniture business. 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, such as Bromley, Metro Centre, Watford and Merry Hill. By October 2008 the success of the Home Stores format had rolled out to 16 dedicated Home Stores and by 2010, the company had launched its independent furniture website bhsfurniture.co.uk.
The stores and website now sell a number of leading brands including Italsofa, G-Plan, Relyon and Silentnight. Larger homes stores, such as Barton Square also sell the Welle cabinet range and have Sharps showrooms.
In its stores, BHS sells a mixture of basic electricals based primarily on kitchen products (such as kettles and toasters). Recently this range has begun to increase, particularly in their 'Home' stores and larger high street stores. Ranges beginning to be introduced include Breville, Russell Hobbs, De'Longhi and Vax. In addition, BHS has begun to sell larger electrical through a separate website, bhsdirect.co.uk. The service is run through a third party company Buy it Direct and is not directly controlled by BHS. This has allowed the company to expand its product range to laptops, tablets, large kitchen appliances such as fridge-freezers, TVs and air-conditioners.
In January 2014 it was announced that the chain would sell branded food products at competitive prices, the service to be trialled in 50 stores with the intention of making this a permanent addition in up to 150 stores. The first of three trial stores opened in Staines in March 2014, this was shortly followed by another in Warrington and a third in Romford  with the company planning more in 2015.
BHS is split up into fourteen regions. Each region is headed by a Regional Manager, and the highest turnover stores are known as 'Flagships' and are run by a General Manager. All other stores have a Store Manager, Commercial Manager, Operations Manager, Sales Floor Manager(s), Lead Associates (team leaders) and Associates. Larger stores will 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. An additional distribution centre also operates from Monks Path in Solihull focusing on Wedding and Lighting products, whilst hub centres in Milton keynes and Arcadia's large Torre Road site in Leeds are also utilised.
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 the Home & Christmas departments, and as of 2013, functions for the Arcadia brand Evans. All other divisions remain 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. On 28 October 2013 a store was opened in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
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