- New owner Al Mana understood to be looking for partner to operate UK business
- Business would be smaller and more upmarket than previous incarnation
- News comes as Sir Philip Green reportedly demands close of BHS investigations in return for stemming pension deficit
BHS could return to the UK under the new Qatari owner of its international and online divisions, which is searching for a UK operating partner.
The Guardian reported that Al Mana is searching for a partner to operate the UK business, potentially as a franchise.
Any return of BHS to the British high street would see it come back as a more upmarket proposition with “only a handful” of stores.
Al Mana, which is based in Doha, operates stores for Harvey Nichols, Mango and Zara. It bought BHS’s international business, which includes 70 stores and an online business, in June following the collapse of BHS.
As revealed by Retail Week, BHS entered into administration at the end of April. Administrators failed to find a UK buyer.
The collapse saw 11,000 people lose their jobs and left a pensions black hole of £571m.
A joint investigation by the select committees of the departments of Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills laid the blame for the chain’s collapse at the doors of former owners Sir Philip Green and Dominic Chappell. It called for Green to plug the pension deficit.
Several investigations are still ongoing: The Insolvency Service, the Financial Reporting Council and The Pensions Regulator are all examining how the chain collapsed.
Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field has also met with the head of the Serious Fraud Office to discuss the retailer’s collapse.
According to the Daily Mail, Green has demanded that the inquiries be halted if he makes a contribution to the deficit. The Mail reports that no formal offer has been made but that Green’s aides have hinted that he would pay around £300m and would expect the inquiries to be stopped.
The last 22 BHS stores closed their doors this weekend.