Sir Philip Green has transferred control of BHS Group to Retail Acquisitions, effective today.
Retail Acquisitions is a company established in England in order to make acquisitions in the UK retail space. Drapers understands it was incorporated in November 2014 and changed its name from Swiss Rock Ventures earlier this month. Directors associated with the company are understood to be Lennart David Henningson, Dominic Chappell, Stephen Charles Bourne and Mark Tasker.
The statement from BHS is carefully worded and does not state that the department store chain has been sold.
Green said: “I am pleased that we have found a buyer in Retail Acquisitions who wants to develop the BHS brand. 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 business is handed over in a sound financial position with significant cash balances and banking facilities in place. I am confident that Retail Acquisitions Limited have a platform to grow the business and return it to profitability.
“Most of the senior management have been with BHS for a long time and know the business very well – I am confident that they will work seamlessly with the new owners to achieve the very best for BHS.”
Sir Philip Green added: “BHS has a strong portfolio of 171 store sites throughout the UK, significant assets, long-standing and loyal suppliers and great international franchise partners. I am deeply proud of the work ethic displayed by the very many people I have worked with for so long at BHS, both within our Head Office and across the stores. I would also like to thank the very many loyal and dedicated customers who shop with BHS, visit our cafes and use our website on a regular basis, and hope that they will continue to do so.”
The chairman of Retail Acquisitions Ltd, Keith Smith said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into this iconic British high street brand. We are convinced that with strategic and focused support we will return BHS to profitability, and safeguard the workforce.
“By backing the existing management and investing in their plan, we are confident that we can build upon many of the initiatives already in place. In addition, Retail Acquisitions Ltd will appoint a BHS chairman with significant retail experience and further retail turnaround experts in due course.”
An industry observer told Drapers: “This looks like only the first stage in the disposal of BHS. This seems like a shell company that will pass BHS onto another party. But at least it has moved the troubled chain away from Sir Philip Green. He must have paid a lot of money for them to take BHS. It would be interesting to know what has happened to the £100m pension deficit.”