Closing-down sales are in full swing at BHS.com.
Almost two years to the day after multichannel retailer BHS went into administration, the news has come that the attempt to save the BHS brand as an online-only department store business has failed.
The Qatar-based Al Mana Group which owned BHS said this week that it had decided to focus its resources on its stores-based businesses following a strategic review. Those include the BHS International franchise business.
As a result, BHS.com will shut its website on Wednesday June 27, making final deliveries to customers on Wednesday July 5. The closure puts 18 jobs at risk, although the company said in a statement that it was “in late stage negotiations with several new partners”.
A BHS company spokesperson said in a statement: “The 18 members of our BHS.com team, along with all suppliers, will be treated fairly and equitably as the website is closed down. We’d like to thank our team, suppliers and our customers for all their support over the past 20 months.”
When BHS.com relaunched online, back in September 2016, with a staff of 84, it said that it would focus on what worked at the former BHS group. That included the lighting and homewares department, pared down into a smaller range. To this, it added the latest approaches to online retail and social media. At the time, David Anderson, managing director of BHS International, said the new business had advantages over the typical start-up. “We are nimble and efficient, but with a great brand, strong customer base and a proven and dedicated team,” he said.
At the time, InternetRetailing pointed out that its history had echoes of Woolworths. When BHS was founded, back in 1928, it was said to be looking to emulate the success of Woolworths. After Woolworths failed in the 2008 downturn, its website was relaunched but was ultimately closed by owners Shop Direct in 2009. That history is echoed again with the latest closure of BHS.com.
Commenting, David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, which recently published its own study on department stores, said the news came as no surprise. “The old BHS stores’ site bhs.co.uk, was very clunky – and even took you to a separate white label site that didn’t integrate at all well, for large items. The new BHS.com site was a big improvement – but not good enough to stand alone.
“Worryingly for Debenhams and House of Fraser, they still use other retailers’ white label sites for some larger items – and the join is still pretty poor. Debenhams’ large electrical products actually link to a Buy it Direct white label site – the company that used to run the old BHS large items site. In 2018, no matter how sales and logistics are structured behind the scenes, online shoppers should never notice the join.”