Industry sources have said they are unsurprised by the decision to close the BHS website, but added it was the “end of era” as the brand disappears completely from the UK.
Qatar-based Al Mana Group, the owners of BHS, announced they are to close its UK based online retailer BHS.com, following a strategic review.
Retail analyst Richard Hyman told Drapers difficult market conditions in the UK were likely to have contributed to the closure: “For most people BHS stopped being a feature of the UK retail scene when the original business failed. It’s no surprise really, it would have been a bigger surprise had it been a success. In this retail market, much stronger brands than BHS are struggling.”
Mamequa Boafo, Global Data’s senior analyst for retail, said a lack of marketing and investment played a role in its demise. “The traditional BHS customer wasn’t an online shopper, so they were unable to connect with previous loyal customers and lack of investment meant they were unable to engage and attract new shoppers.”
Boafo added that the high-profile BHS administration in 2016, coupled with negative connotations from the pensions’ scandal that ensued, meant the business needed a large-scale marketing campaign to win back the favour of UK shoppers.
“There was such a big furore when BHS came off the high street, to then try and reignite the brand as BHS.com, it just wasn’t the right timing.”
Independent analyst Nick Bubb added: “BHS.com was tiny in the scheme of things, not many will lament its passing. It was trying to do a bit of everything, but falling between two stools. It was clearly not doing well and losing money. People tried to keep the Woolworths website, but over time consumers forget. What’s left are winners and losers, in a retail market that is still over capacity.”
Al Mana Group confirmed the website is due to close on 27 June, with final deliveries to customers by 5 July.
A BHS company spokesperson said: “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.”
Al Mana Group said it remains fully committed to expanding and investing in BHS International, its franchise stores business.