BHS chief executive Darren Topp has revealed a more nimble strategy for the department store chain including concession deals with Claire’s Accessories and Debenhams.
“Now we are independent, we are fighting the BHS corner,” he told Drapers on Wednesday.
BHS will trial 400 sq ft Claire’s Accessories concessions in six stores including Watford, Milton Keynes and London Oxford Street, and has agreed a deal to open two 1,000 sq ft BHS lighting concessions in Debenhams stores in Oxford and Guildford this summer.
“We are talking to other retailers about putting our clothing in their stores as well as vice versa, and various other options,” explained Topp.
“We are open for business and prepared to have discussions with anyone about how to make our offer better for our customer in our stores or online – or for new ways for us to reach her.”
Topp said Retail Acquisitions, which acquired the chain’s 173 UK and 88 overseas stores for £1 from Sir Philip Green in March, has fully backed his team and their plan to restore BHS to its former glory as a “great British retailer”.
He said BHS will target working mums in their mid-40s who buy for all the family: “Three-quarters of sales come from fashion and, of that, half is womenswear, so it is our priority to make that category even better.”
This year has been the strongest on fashion for a decade, Topp said, and like-for-like sales for the whole business recorded single-digit growth for the first 35 weeks of the financial year, which ends in August, despite tough trading during the mild September and October.
He said the credit insurance situation was “improving” and emphasised that BHS has not stopped placing orders. “It is my priority to make sure we get the right stock in stores at the right time to ensure continuity of supply through to autumn.”