Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green has put BHS up for sale after receiving a number of approaches for the department store chain.
The move comes after years of speculation that Green was willing to part with BHS if a buyer could be found for the loss-making business.
A spokeswoman for Green said: “We have had several approaches on BHS over the past few months. It is now the company’s plan to explore whether any of these can be brought to a conclusion.”
In November, the tycoon said he could be a “buyer or a seller” of high street chains as he unveiled a 3.4% fall in pretax profits at his Taveta Investments holding company, the group which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Burton and BHS. At the time he said: “BHS remains challenging … with this sector of retail continuing to be very tough. There’s nothing wrong with the products it’s just getting people through the door.”
Green paid Storehouse £200m for the then British Home Stores in 2000 and the repairs he conducted on the struggling business helped propel him into the ranks of Britain’s billionaires. He also holds the rare status of a business figure who is well-known outside the City, especially following his failed tilt at acquiring Marks & Spencer in 2004.
He consoled himself on missing out on that deal a year later by paying a £1.2bn dividend to his wife Tina – the direct owner of his Arcadia group who is based in the tax haven of Monaco.
However, BHS’s fortunes have since slipped and the 180-store, 12,000-employee business reported sales down by 3.5% to £675.7m in 2013, as it narrowed pretax losses to £69.9m from £116m in 2012.
Meanwhile, Green has increasingly been seen to be focusing his efforts on Topshop, which he has expanded into America and Asia. His friendship with the model Kate Moss, who has a line of clothes sold in the store, has helped transform Topshop’s old downmarket image into a store that is routinely considered one of the most fashionable among the high street chains.
BHS has previously attracted the attention of South African tycoon Christo Wiese, while the US hedge fund Apollo and the turnaround firm Hilco have also been reportedly interested.
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