BHS.com ‘faces hurdle of ferocious competition’ in homewares

Following the launch of BHS.com yesterday (Thursday September 29), an international Mergers & Acquisitions and debt advisory firm has commented on the venture.

The online shop offers with a range of lighting, bedroom and bathroom products for a UK customer base, which will be joined by housewares and clothing next month.

BHS.com has been launched by the brand’s new owner, the Qatar-based Al Mana Group. In June 2016, the Al Mana Group created BHS International (UK) Limited, which acquired BHS.com, the international franchise business, and the BHS brand, after the retailer went into receivership in April.  

Harsha Wickremasinghe, an associate at Livingstone, said: “Plans to launch a completely new website and to create a seamless shopping experience for customers across multiple devices tick the right boxes.

“As consumers accelerate their migration online, BHS.com will be a far nimbler business, which should be able to adapt quickly to the ongoing structural change in the UK’s retail landscape.

“BHS.com faces the challenge of ‘repositioning’ the brand to cater to a customer who is 10-15 years younger than its historic core 50-plus female shopper.

“Driving engagement with a customer set that has not previously considered the brand, and who are spoilt for choice in the category, will be a truly mammoth task.

“One major hurdle for BHS.com is overcoming the ferocious competition in homewares as John Lewis, Next, Dunelm and M&S all ramp up investment in their own online propositions.

“The retailer will also need to compete head-on with pureplay operators such as Made.com and new entrant LoveTheSign, who offer truly unique, quality products at affordable prices.

“Plans to introduce clothing ranges in the future ring alarm bells. Never has the phrase ‘stick to your knitting’ been more apt. Rather than diversifying the range of stock, it should instead concentrate on mastering the retail basics of intimately knowing their customer base and offering the right product at the right price, whilst delivering the best possible service and experience.

“The ‘iconic heritage’ of the BHS brand will count for very little as it tries to re-incarnate itself online. Therefore only time will tell whether BHS.com can successfully re-incarnate itself as a brand that is relevant for today’s demanding and savvy shoppers.”

 

Livingstone associate Harsha Wickremasinghe

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