If BHS really is to be a “going concern” then much effort and money will need to be poured into its store portfolio, almost immediately.
Yours for £1 as long as you agree to look after it… for a while.
That, more or, less is the story that underpins the sale of BHS to a little known consortium called Retail Acquisitions.
Actually, this deal has been a long time coming.
And it does seem a fair bet that back in 2010, as a new chapter in the history of the time-serving department store was hailed following a makeover at its Uxbridge branch, if it could have been offloaded, then the sale might have happened sooner.
In the event, what has the new owner acquired?
Finding the answer to this one does depend a lot on where you happen to be.
But to take the Oxford Street flagship, the L-shaped store is used by some as a cut-through to avoid the crowds that pass its windows.
Five-year renewal cycle
For those venturing inside, the vista is a slice of the late 90s, in spite of some minor design revamps over the intervening years.
This goes very much against the received wisdom about what needs to be done to keep a retail brand relevant, which tends to favour a five-year renewal cycle as far as keeping stores competitive is concerned.
Indeed, it’s quite hard not to think of C&A just prior to it leaving these shores in 2000.
That was a chain that did little to renew its stores and slowly but surely its shoppers decamped to slicker outfits that viewed store environment as just as important as the stock it contained if shoppers were to be seduced.
In fairness to C&A, it continues to be a major player across mainland Europe, although it must be viewing the rise and rise of good-looking Primark stores with growing trepidation.
That it continues to trade from Madrid to Moscow is certainly testimony to updating its in-store game, but it cannot rest upon its laurels.
For Retail Acquisitions meanwhile, if it really does want BHS to be a “going concern”, then it will have to do something about store portfolio as well as stock and this will be costly and time-consuming.
The will to do this may actually be there, but it will be a tough call to bring the stores up to the level of, perhaps, Uxbridge, which is already nearing ‘refresh’ time. There is much work to be done.