In 2000, the year that tycoon Sir Philip Green bought BHS, Asos was launched and Amazon had only been trading for five years.
Green took control of a solid if unspectacular chain which, having been a presence on the high street for seven decades, looked likely to remain a retail mainstay.
That pace of change was a contributor to the demise of BHS, which this week was put into administration – a likelihood first signalled last Friday on Retail-week.com
BHS has been loss-making for seven years. Along with the shift in shopping habits that online presaged, it struggled to adapt as bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Zara and Primark extended their store portfolios and their appeal.
In the end, Green couldn’t make the business work and sold it for £1 last year in the hope that, as the sole focus of a new owner, rather than an underperforming fascia within a group, it might fare better.
But the new owner, Retail Acquisitions, has proved itself little qualified to turn around BHS.
At first there were some encouraging signs, such as the expansion of a food offer that drove footfall, and facelifts to some shops provided foundations for recovery.
A company voluntary arrangement last month was designed to rid the retailer of expensive leases, enabling it to push on with its retail revival plans.
But Retail Acquisitions has since failed to raise the money from property disposals it seemed confident of doing and today the future of BHS is in doubt. Without cash, the retailer was out of time.
There has been much focus on the impact that BHS’s pension deficit has had. It certainly seems to have been a big factor in deterring any further acquisition interest.
However, BHS has not failed because of its pension deficit. It hit the buffers because it lost relevance.
Sadly, there can be little prospect that the brand will feature in the high streets of the future. The likelihood is that stores in good locations will be picked up by other retailers for their own fascias.
Now 88 years old, the BHS name probably won’t make it to a century – it simply, sadly, no longer has the pulling power.