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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Bhs sold to M&S raider
Bhs customers
Storehouse shares have suffered
Monaco-based entrepreneur Philip Green is to buy Bhs for 200m.

The sale of the department stores chain is subject to approval by Storehouse shareholders.

I've never bought a business where I've put people on the street

Philip Green
The sale comes a fortnight after supermarkets chain Iceland pulled out of the bidding for the group, which also includes Mothercare.

Mr Green dismissed suggestions he will break up the group.

The retail raider, who last month abandoned plans to launch a bid for Marks & Spencer, said it would take two to three months for him to draw up detailed plans for Bhs, which he plans to run as a going concern.

Further acquisitions

"We need to a have a detailed look at everything, its product range and its positioning. But to be perfectly honest I've only just met the people there," he said.

The chain is the fifth largest clothes retailer in the UK owning almost 160 stores and employing 14,000 mainly part-time staff.

Commenting on job prospects at Bhs, Mr Green said: "I've never bought a business where I've put people on the street. The fact is I run businesses and that takes people."

He said he hoped his deal to buy Bhs would be completed within five weeks.

He added he was still in the market for other deals and was considering other acquisitions in the retail sector.

"This doesn't rule anything out," he said.

Head-to-head with Bhs

Mr Green shot to public prominence in December last year when he emerged as a potential bidder for Marks & Spencer - a plan he only abandoned last month.

His previous coup was to snap up the Sears retailing business for 548m, backed with cash from the Barclay brothers, the reclusive media entrepreneurs and owners of the London Ritz.

Mr Green sold off the Sears empire piece by piece, making profits estimated at 180m for himself and his financial backers.

Much of his personal profit from that deal is now thought to have gone towards the Bhs deal.

If he does hold on to Bhs, it would put him head-to-head with M&S, which spurned his attentions and prompted the withdrawal of his takeover interest by concentrating its fire on his wife's shareholdings.

Storehouse initiated the auction process after announcing plans last November to split into two separate units. Under the plan, Bhs and Mothercare were to be floated off or demerged by 2001.

Storehouse, created in the 1980s by entrepreneur Terence Conran, has performed dismally in recent years in an increasingly cut-throat UK retail market.

The company has a market value of just under 200m.

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See also:

13 Dec 99 | Business
Retail genius to strike again
01 Mar 00 | Business
Iceland eyes Bhs
10 Feb 00 | Business
Green drops bid for M&S
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