imgID76310255.jpg.galleryHigh Street icon British Home Stores (BHS) has finally cracked its digital offering – just five months after it went bust with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pensions deficit the size of Israel’s military budget. Good timing.

BHS is relaunching on Thursday 29th September as an online-only entity based in London.

In the real world, the retailer was resolutely stuck in about 1957. When, late last year, a lady named Margaret entered the Basingstoke store to buy ‘a nice cardy’, it was the first recorded footfall on the brand’s premises in a generation.

The physical BHS stores were £70m in debt at the time of administration, but the company had millions of loyal online customers and was trading over its website at a profit. That’s despite the group not spending on digital tech and failing to nail any kind of click-and-collect proposition. Why did BHS go bust? There’s a clue there.

As part of the relaunch, BHS has scrapped its huge (and largely beige) product offering in favour of a slimmed-down range comprising lighting, home furnishings and clothing. These made up over half of BHS’s online revenue before it shut up shop.

The new website is easy for buyers to order and check out, and has been optimised for an omnichannel experience. The old has been acquired by BHS International (UK) Limited, formed by the Al Mana Group, which represents many high-profile brands including Mango, Zara, Armani Exchange, Reebok and Benetton.

The Al Mana Group has retained many of the key digital people, including David Anderson, MD of BHS International, Buying Director Sara Bradley and Head of Creative Dave West.

David Anderson said, “We are thrilled to be relaunching this iconic brand back into the UK. 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.

“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, and we were able to recruit the majority of people who worked on the profitable online and international operations of BHS before it went into administration.

“So, although we are starting again in the UK, we have a number of advantages over a typical start-up. We are nimble and efficient, but with a great brand, strong customer base and a proven and dedicated team.”

The new company will employ 84 staff. Let’s hope the pension scheme’s a cracker.


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Author Chris Painter

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