Veteran retailer Sir Philip Green has sold his BHS chain of department stores for an undisclosed sum to a mystery group of investors - who go by the less mysterious name Retail Acquisitions Ltd. Green said the deal would help the return the struggling business to profitability after it made a loss of £21m in its most recent accounts, up from 19.1m in its previous year. According to the BBC, Green sold the business for as little as £1.
'I am pleased that we have found a buyer in Retail Acquisitions Ltd who wants to develop the BHS brand,' he said. 'Having acquired the business nearly 15 years ago in May 2000, one of my clear objectives in identifying a purchaser was ensuring their desire to take the business forward.'
The group is an investment vehicle specifically set up for this deal. A spokesperson told MT that there are no immediate plans to acquire other businesses but that this could be possible in the future. At the moment it is focused on the search for a new chairman.
The company is backed by an undisclosed number of high net-worth investors and led by chairman Keith Smith, a financier who has been described as having more than 30 years experience in the City. He was a senior director at the small stockbroker Nabarro Wells, which has since been liquidated.
'This is a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into this iconic British high street brand,' said Smith. 'We are convinced that with strategic and focused support we will return BHS to profitability, and safeguard the workforce.'
He added that the group is looking to appoint a chairman with significant retail experience, but Sky reports that former Thomas Cook chief exec Harriet Green has been approached about the role. Though the travel agent does have stores, it's not really a retailer in the traditional sense.
Other candidates are also in the frame, and it seems Green has had more approaches than she can shake a stick at since her departure in November. The rest of the management team is expected to remain in place.
The acquisition is the end of an era for Sir Philip, whose acquisition of BHS for £200m back in 2000 went on to earn him his first £1bn.