Sir Philip Green is looking to sell the loss-making department store chain Bhs after receiving “several approaches”.
He bought the chain for £200m in 2000 from retail conglomerate Storehouse and merged it with the Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, in 2009.
Bhs has around 180 stores in the UK and employs around 12,000 people, in addition to franchise partners in 14 countries.
The performance of Bhs, where losses grew from £19.3m to £21m in the year to August 30, 2014, remains “challenging”. In November, Green told Drapers that he had not had a single sensible offer for the store business during the past 12 months.
Bhs has been trialling food stores since March last year in a bid to turn around its fortunes and has reported favourable trading in the early stages.
An Arcadia spokesperson said: “We have had several approaches on Bhs over the past few months. It is now the company’s plan to explore whether any of these can be brought to a conclusion.”
South African billionaire Christo Wiese confirmed that he was interested in making an offer for Bhs in 2013, but has since unveiled his plans for the launch of Pep&Co on the British high street. The chain will have 50 stores for the initial launch in summer, with store sizes of approximately 3,500 sq ft in locations such as market towns.
Pepkor UK, the investment vehicle behind the new value chain, also plans to make other strategic acquisitions on the UK high street, so Bhs could still be of interest.
US private equity group Apollo Global Management established a joint venture with the former chief executive of GA Europe, Gavin George, at the end of last year to invest in struggling retailers on the British high street. Alteri Investors said it is focused on the retail industry in the UK and Germany and expects to invest approximately £10m to £50m through debt and equity transactions, with additional capacity for larger transactions.
Other interested parties are thought to be Primark and Hilco Capital, which specialises in distressed investment and restructuring services. Hilco bought struggling young fashion chain Bank at the end of last year and has since appointed administrators.
The sale of Bhs would allow Green to focus on other parts of the Arcadia Group, such as Topshop, which is expanding its international footprint.