Department store Bhs has moved into the competitive electricals market with the launch this week of the Bhs Direct website, which offers a wide range of branded goods including TVs, cameras, laptops and kitchen appliances.
The Arcadia-owned chain has started selling the goods on a site run by white label service provider Easycom. A Bhs spokeswoman said: “Bhs Direct was launched as part of our strategy to be a one-stop shop for the family.”
This is another step by Arcadia to refresh and extend the reach of Bhs, which was integrated into the wider group in July last year. It has been putting Arcadia brands, including Wallis and Burton, into its stores as well as trialling outside brands and concessions in selected stores.
It also unveiled a new look store last week in Uxbridge with a new fascia and a modern look and feel.
However, Verdict consulting director Neil Saunders warned that electricals is a tough market to move into. “It is a crowded market with a low margin and Bhs will need to shift enough volume for it to be a good part of the business,” he said.
But Saunders agrees the online approach is a good low-risk way to test the waters. “It is right to look at other areas to raise sales,” he said. With Marks & Spencer and John Lewis already moving more into that space it will be difficult to offer “over and above” what is already in the market - particularly if it goes into stores, he added.
Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green has vowed to return Bhs to profit after company accounts revealed a loss in the business before it merged into the larger group.