Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green has decided to break apart one of Britain's biggest retail empires by selling British Home Stores (BHS).
Green purchased the business, which sells mostly clothing and household items, from the Storehouse conglomerate in 2000 for £200m. It now has a significant presence on high streets across the UK, with 180 stores employing 12,000 staff nationwide.
In fact, it was his turnaround of the chain a decade ago that earned him his first billion, and he went on to purchase the Arcadia Group. But the sale of BHS means a key part of the retail empire will be lost, leaving behind Topshop, Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins among others.
BHS has had a difficult time in recent years - after the recession, shopping habits altered and stiff competition meant sales started to suffer, causing the company to lose hundreds of millions of pounds in value over the proceeding years. In 2013, write-downs on failing stores caused sales to drop by 3.5 per cent to £675.7m, resulting in a pre-tax loss of £69.6m. The situation was even worse a year earlier in 2012, however, when the business lost £116m.
Last autumn, Green said BHS was in repair, with the business starting to show signs of promise again, but he has nonetheless gone ahead and put the store up for auction.
According to The Sunday Times, the billionaire has been approached by potential buyers of the chain a number of times, but until now all offers were rejected on price grounds. Over the past few months, he has received some “serious” approaches for the store.