BHS stores to close in Dubai and Sharjah after collapse
Five BHS stores in Dubai and Sharjah are set to close after the British retail major collapsed in March.
Al Maya Group, a Dubai company that owns the franchise to BHS in the emirate, said its five BHS stores located in Dubai Mall, Festival City, Al Ghurair Centre, Lamcy Plaza and Sharjah City Centre would close by the end of the year.
“Al Maya owns the franchise to these stores so they do not have to close, but the company has chosen to close them,” the Al Maya buyer Noor Tayyaba told The National.
The BHS group collapsed a year after it was sold by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia to Retail Acquisitions, a consortium led by the former racing driver and three times bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
But in Abu Dhabi it was business as usual for the 11 BHS stores operated by Liwa Trading Enterprises, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Al Nasser Holdings.
A Liwa spokesman confirmed that its stores, located in some of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s largest shopping malls, would continue to trade despite the closure this week of all 163 BHS stores in the United Kingdom.
“BHS still has a loyal customer base in the Middle East. Our customers in Abu Dhabi tend to be Arab expatriates who like the styling offered by the brand,” a Liwa spokesman said.
“We have always found it easy to meet the minimum targets for our franchises with the BHS brand and intend to continue with it.”
In June, the Qatari conglomerate Al Mana acquired the company’s international franchising business and all domain names.
Alshaya Group manages 26 franchised BHS stores across the Arabian Gulf – 13 in Saudi Arabia, 12 in Kuwait and one in Oman. The company is also understood to be continuing with the brand.
BHS is not the only international brand to continue trading in the region after facing insolvency elsewhere. The book seller Borders and the ladies fashion chain Jane Norman are among overseas high street names that continue to trade here.
“There are a number of brands which continue to exist in the UAE even though their parent companies have disappeared elsewhere,” said David Macadam, the chief executive of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres.
“The challenge for franchisees in these sorts of occasions is to continue to source stock. However, for a brand like BHS that sort of low to mid-market value retailer is still very popular in the UAE and I think there is still a lot of room for them in the market.”