- Vivian Hendriksz |
London - Although collapsed department store group BHS is likely to fade from the British high street, it will live on overseas as its international portfolio has been acquired by a Qatari retail group.
BHS administrators Duff & Phelps have confirmed the sale of the collapsed retailer overseas business and online operations to Al Mana Group. The Qatari buyer, based in Doha, has signed a deal to take over 70 international BHS stores as well as its online enterprise. It is the first agreement to be signed by Duff & Phelps since the firm was appointed as BHS's administrator this April.
BHS overseas operations and online business acquired by Qatari Group
Al Mana Group, which operates stores for the likes of Harvey Nichols, Zara and Mango in the Middle East, is said to have been in discussion with Duff & Phelps for several weeks before coming to an agreement. At the moment it remains unclear what Al Mana paid for BHS's overseas business, but Duff & Phelps are set to send out an official announcement concerning the sale later this Friday.
The deal with the Qatari group could potentially see the roles of 150 workers in the UK who oversee BHS's online operation. It is also good news for BHS creditors, which together are owed more than 1 billion pounds. Unsecured creditors, which includes thousands of suppliers, where told last week during the parliamentary inquiry that they could expect to receive between 2p and 3p for every pound they are owed.
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF)is said to be largest creditor on record, as it is poised to take on BHS 571 million pounds pension deficit, unless a rescue deal can be arranged. At the moment, Sir Philip Green, the former owner of BHS who sold the retail group to a retail consortium led by Dominic Chappell last March for 1 pound, is attempting to work out a deal with the pension regulator to secure BHS's pension scheme.
Chappell, who is understood to have tried to hold onto to BHS international operation up until June, said he was "genuinely very pleased that it's gone to a group like [Al Mana] because they will drive it forward," reports the Financial Times. "We're obviously disappointed because we were trying to buy it but there you go."
Although the deal is a positive sign for creditors, the future of BHS 164 UK stores and 11,000 members of staff remains unclear. At the moment all of BHS UK stores have remained open and continue to trade, but they are in the process of running closing down sales as administrators continue to try and negotiate deals with potential buyers.
At the moment it seems unlikely that Duff & Phelps will be able to secure a single buyer to take over more than 50 of BHS UK stores, although there is said to have been significant interest in part of the retail group's UK store portfolio from the Primark and Sports Direct.
Photo: BHS, Facebook