Bhs or British Home Stores (formerly BHS and BhS) is a stalwart department store of the British High Street, selling clothing and household items (such as bedlinen, cutlery, crockery and lighting). Bhs competes on high-quality and value-for-money, aiming at a less affluent demographic than Marks and Spencer or John Lewis. Currently the company has 186 stores throughout the United Kingdom.
The 1920s & 30s
The first British Home Stores shop opened in Brixton
in 1928 and copied the business model of the US-based FW Woolworth in that the price of goods was limited to a maximum of one shilling. In 1929 the maximum price was increased to five shillings which enabled the company to expand the range to include furnishings and drapery. The company became a public company
(Plc) in 1931.
After the Second World War
the company stopped selling based on price and started to offer goods with quality and value for money
The company expanded in the 1980s including a joint venture with retailer Sainsbury's
to create hypermarkets using the SavaCentre
brand. By the end of the 1970s British Home Stores was established as a department store.
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
, 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
to form Storehouse plc
and soon afterwards, the British Home Stores
registered company name and branding across its shops was replaced with 'BhS' (now Bhs
) 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.
The 1990s: 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 during 1995. With its softer Bhs
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 Sir 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
, Dorothy Perkins
among others, to form Britain's second largest clothes retailer, after Marks and Spencer
. Storehouse Plc who had also demerged Habitat back in 1992 now trades as Mothercare Plc
and only operates Mothercare. 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."
The 2000s: Etam, Amelie May, Tammy & Return to British Home Stores
In May 2005, Philip Green, owner of Bhs, purchased Etam UK
from their French owner, Etam Development
. The Etam UK brands included "Etam", "Amelie May", and "Tammy
"; of the three brands names included in the purchase of Etam UK, the girls` fashion retailer "Tammy
) having already established itself as a well-respected girlswear brand "For Girls with Attitude", was the strongest brand in terms of sales and consumer recognition. For this reason, and to help improve young people`s perception of Bhs as a whole, stand-alone Tammy
stores were closed nationwide, and the brand was integrated into all Bhs stores across the UK from early September 2005.
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. British Home Stores branding is used at outlets that feature homeware alongside the traditional clothing range. Contrary to what is sometimes believed, they are not dedicated entirely to domestic items. Due to the success of the branding of these stores, there are more planned for the future. Effective from 14 January 2007, all of the 'British Home Stores' have all been structured together as one "region" within the company. As a whole, the company has approximately 12 regions.
The company launched its home shopping Web site on Wednesday 28 March 2007
, with the ultimate aim of making all of its products available online. This was achieved in October and it is now possible to purchase from: womenswear, menswear, childrenswear (including Tammy and schoolwear) and home, lighting and furniture products.
Changes to store format
Some stores in the core format of Bhs are currently evaluating a new department layout; with some departments, including menswear, growing and some decreasing in size. With this ongoing change. Larger homewares departments will also stock new bedding, lighting and bathroom ranges developed for the British Home Stores fascia.
A number of sections within some of the main departments are being re-branded and are receiving new clothing lines to suit their (colour-based) themes. Tea Dance, 40s Romance, 40s Nostalgia, Classics, Core, Denim Shop, English Heritage, Heritage, Simply Chic, Winter Berries, Baroque and Petites (note the addition of the "s") among others (depending on season) for example, made-up the 2006 women's fashions department. Recently, the older boys (8-16) department has been revamped with new, more fashionable clothing ranges added across most stores within the company. This new department range is called "Flipback". Flipback's aim is to appeal youngsters into the rebel, punk, skater boy type-image.
Bhs has a number of dedicated niche departments that include the school
departments. In the wedding department a number of changes have recently taken place. A larger wedding range is now available in selected stores and parts of the range ("essentials") are available in other stores. The schoolwear shop ("Bhs School") department received a major design and range review mid-2006 and with its new "short, tall, big or small. .. we've got it all!" slogan and promises to "Fit the Nation". Additionally, each store is now customising their uniform offerings to cater for the most popular colour combinations used by schools in the locality.
Brand imaging, refurbishments and revamps
At present there are a number of corporate designs being used by Bhs, this is caused by the company's policy of refurbishing and applying new branding to the better (financially) performing stores first and slowly working down the store "league table" thereafter. Generally speaking those stores with the most up to date fascia (black and white) are among the best performing within the business. Those with the fascia prior to this are stores which are or have been performing fairly well. Stores which are still using facias dating back to the 80s and early 90s are generally the worst performing stores within the business.
Bhs are currently in the process of rolling out a revamped brand image for its stores. Gone will be the 1980s facias and the Bhs greys, greens and curved store signage from the 90's - in comes clean-cut black and the white. Examples of this can already be seen by both the internal and external presentation of their newer stores, like those purchased from collapsed firm Allders in 2005 and better performing stores such as Milton Keynes or Bexleyheath. This move appears to be quite a trend for high street retailers, with rivals Debenhams and Next already having a similar simple black and white corporate design.
Many departments within the stores themselves have recently received complete revamps themselves, creating a number of "themes" within each department. The most notable change however is the return of the iconic 'British Home Stores' branding, re-introduced after 20 years and used for those stores selling purely homeware. The British Home Stores wording is shown in the Futura typeface which both contrasts with the curvy script of the Bhs 'signature' acronym logo and harks back to the font's predominant use in historical signage. Again, all new store branding is presented in the new white-on-black livery style.
Bhs is renowned among many of its customers for offering a fair value Christmas shopping experience - and the queues around the Christmas period speak for themselves. During the 1st week of October each year the full Christmas shop is rolled out in Bhs stores nationwide (giving that the Christmas cards normally come out earlier); in most cases this replaces a section of women's fashions until just after Christmas. During this period Christmas shop offer a wide range of novelty, gift, decoration and food items to consumers in addition to the usual Bhs clothing and homewares lines. Arguably because of the lower socio-economic demographic that Bhs targets when compared with M&S, the former utilises a reduction sale on its Christmas shop early on to attract shoppers. Marks and Spencer, on the other hand, relies on the image of the brand alone to sell at full price right through until Christmas.
Additional temporary staff are taken on from late September right up until December, the some often being retained on a permanent basis after this should the store have any vacancies to fill. Each year a new Christmas cuddly toy is launched, normally taking the form of a bear. Christmas 2005 brought about Parker the Bear and Christmas 2006 had Bertie Bear and Toby Terrier. In 2007 Baxter Bear and Dexter Dog made an appearance. 2008 brings Benji Bear and Dylan Dog. 2008 has also been the first year where an official launch date was annouced, being the 5th of October, although many stores were selling Christmas items before this date.
Kelly Hoppen is an internationally renowned interior designer who has advised the Beckhams among others on their interior furnishings and decor. The KHome range offers two styles, "Classic" and "Glamour". Products include cushions, towels, vases, accessories, lighting, sofas, dining tables and chairs, side tables and headboards. The Kelly Hoppen range is normally higher priced than the standard Bhs Home Range.
The Goldcard is the Bhs combined payment and discount card, administered by GE Capital Bank
. The card also functions as a loyalty discount card. The Bhs Goldcard is accepted in all Bhs (including Tammy) and Arcadia Group
In March 2008, the company decided after 10 years with GE Money to end their contract and finish Gold Card applications. The Gold Card was replaced with a temporary discount card named the 'Thank-you Card' which has now also been terminated, but is valid until 31 July
The card will be replaced on 23 July by the BHS Credit Card
It has been confirmed that all existing Gold Card accounts will be cancelled on October 31st and customers will have to open a BHS Credit Card if they wish to carry on receiving the 20% discount on Cardholder Days and promotional vouchers.
Bhs Everyone Card
This was the new version of the Bhs goldcard. Since September 2006 customers in certain "regions" within the company, who apply for a Bhs card where given the choice of a Bhs Everyone card. The Everyone store card can be used in Bhs and Arcadia Group
stores. Along with the Gold Card, the BHS Everyone Card was terminated as of 31 March 2008
The card will be replaced on 23 July by the BHS Credit Card
It has been confirmed that all existing Everyone accounts will be cancelled by the end of the year and customers will have to open a BHS Credit Card if they wish to carry on receiving the 20% discount on Cardholder Days and promotional vouchers.
Bhs Thank-you Card
On 1 April 2008
, BHS launched a new loyalty scheme entitled Bhs 'Thank-you Card'. Unlike the Gold Card, the 'Thank-you Card' was not credit or points based. It was simply a discount card offering customers 5% off any purchase and 20% of on cardholder events. The 'Thank-you Card', was a temporary card for use during the interim period until the new Bhs Credit Card is launched in July. The card could not be used to gain discount in the BHS Restaurants except on Card Holder Days.
Thank-you Card recruiment has now been terminated and all cards will become inactive on 31 July 2008. The card will be replaced on 23 July by the BHS Credit Card.
Initially advertised along with choice cards, the store is open from 9AM until 9PM, (some stores may be open until later) and cardholders are eligible for 20% discount across the store. Cardholders include customers with Choice, Gold, Everyone and Thank-You cards. Customers will also receive their loyalty benefit as well as the event 20% discount.
The exception of the 5% Thank-You discount which does not apply on these days.
A 10% discount applies on electrical items.
Customers without a card are also welcome on these days where they will be able to apply for a card.
By the end of 2008 all Gold Card accounts will be closed and therefore the only way of receiving the discount will be by opening a BHS Credit Card.
The card will not be issued instore so customers will not be able to use it on the day of opening. However, if opened on a cardholder day customers will be able to receive the 20% discount by using cash or another card.
BHS Credit Card
The BHS credit card will be launced on 23 July 2008
. The card will be run by Barclaycard
with an APR of 18.9%.
There will be no choice discount instore however, the amount spent on the card will determine the amount of points earnt. £1 in BHS = 5 points. £1 spent anywhere else = 1 point. 500 points = £5 voucher for use instore.
The card will have various other benefits such as 0% balance transfers for 9 months. 0% on out of bhs purchases for 3 months and 0% on in store purchase for 6 months. (BHS call this the 3,6,9 method)
Cardholders will also be able to take advantage of regular cardholder days where all items instore will have a 20% discount (see above). The card will not be issued instore so customers will not be able to use it on the day of opening. However, if opened on a cardholder day customers will be able to receive the 20% discount by using cash or another card.
It has been confirmed that all existing Gold Card accounts will be cancelled by the end of the year and customers will have to open a BHS Credit Card if they wish to carry on receiving the 20% discount on Cardholder Days and promotional vouchers.
Management structure, offices and distribution
Bhs in the UK is split up into a number of regions, each region is headded by one RDE (Regional Development Executive), each store then has a store manager and assistant manager along with departmental, admin, loss prevention, weekend and visual managers. Bhs has a number of administration offices across the UK, alongside the company's main head office in Marylebone
; offices are also located at Euston
, London and Luton
. The company's distribution
centre is located at Atherstone
and is managed by Exel Logistics
, web-based orders are also dispatched from this location by DHL
The Bhs brand is used by a number of stores around the world on a franchise basis and although they are not directly owned by Bhs Ltd, products and support are supplied by the company. While Bhs have been offering franchises to interested parties internationally since 1985, the Tammy brand is now available as a stand-alone franchise in the international markets. In early 2006 a new franchise concept "Bhs Kids" was launched in the Middle East. Bhs Kids carries a large number of best selling children's lines from Bhs stores.
Difficult trading conditions and financial performance
Bhs revealed that their operating profits for the financial year 2005-06 have plunged 54% to just £42.2m down from £106m the previous financial year. This figure is even lower than that predicted by the firm earlier this year, who had speculated that operating profits were expected to be down by around a third. In the previous financial year which saw Bhs's operating profits at £106m was down 6% on the year before that. For the 2004-05 year, Mr. Green admitted that he took his eye off the ball at Bhs, whilst he tried to take a tilt at Marks & Spencer
, and to focus on his more successful businesses such as Topshop
Over the last year, the new Bhs product ranges appear to have taken some time to filter into their stores, although these are now appearing in most stores, which in turn has left the business with a large selection of reduced, unsold stock from previous year(s) which is reflected in the sales which appear to be never-ending throughout their UK stores.
Bhs has continued to roll out more stores nationwide - including Nuneaton in Warwickshire and Llandudno, Wales. The company are also beginning to work on the refurbishment of their older stores more pro-actively as a growing number of customers see the stores as being "old fashioned".
Through no legal requirement, but as a relatively "open" privately-owned business, Bhs tends to announce its financial performance for the previous financial year around the beginning of October. The business's financial year is made up of thirteen periods of four weeks, each running from April to the following March.
Bhs For Sale
2006 - No Interest, Tough Climate
According to ('thisismoney.co.uk'
) Bhs owner Philip Green
had been touting Bhs as being for sale late February/early March 2006, but this came to nothing. Rivals such as Asda
were contacted regarding any interest they might have in purchasing the chain. Retail executives say that Green has mooted various combinations including joint ventures or outright sale, but in the current tough market most retail chains don't want to risk taking on more stores.
2007 - Suitor Search Resumes
On May 30, 2007 'thisismoney.co.uk' reported 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.
- 'Bhs Past & Present', Bhs.co.uk (2001) Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- IIIL. 'Hungary, a new emerging economy', New Nations, 66 (Monmouth: International Industrial Information Ltd., [[22 October] 2002)]. Retrieved January 2, 2006.
- 'Green's Bhs sale comes to nothing', ThisIsMoney.co.uk (2006) Retrieved April 11, 2006.
- 'Green admits mistakes at Bhs', ThisIsMoney.co.uk (2006) Retrieved April 11, 2006.
- 'Green humbled by Bhs profits', ThisIsMoney.co.uk (2006) Retrieved September 28, 2006.
- Company History
- Companies House English Company No. 2290606 Incorporated [[12 April] 1928]
- 'Green may sell Bhs to focus on Topshop', ThisIsMoney.co.uk (2007) Retrieved June 3, 2007.