The very first BHS opened in Brixton in 1928 more or less as a carbon copy of the (then) Woolworth's model, with a maximum price of 1 shilling (5 pence) for all its goods. One year later, in 1929, this ceiling price was raised to 1 Crown (25 pence) which boosted the range of products that BHS could retail. Since those early days, the clothing and homeware chain has gone to now have a work of about 14,000 people worldwide.
But modern times are not easy for retailers. In 2009, the company's accounts shown an actual loss of £ 56m on a gross turnover of £ 1,100m which is approximately to 5%. This contrasted with 2008's small profit of £ 15m.
Following the drawing back of the Iron Curtain, in 1995 BHS acquired the distinction of being the first retail store to open a branch in Moscow. Since then it has opened more stores in St Petersburg and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, although its main overseas interest is the lucrative Middle East market.
BHS has been a franchise for just over 15 years and there are now stores around the world which operate in BHS 'name and sell its products. There are also separate 'Tammy' and 'BHS Kids' franchises, the latter carrying BHS' most popular children's lines.
The head office of BHS is located at Marylebone in London and its distribution center is at Atherstone in Warwickshire – a service run by an organization called Spectrum which is part of the Arcadia Group of companies. Despite its growth, British Home Stores remains a privately-owned company.
BHS (UK) is divided into 9 geographical regions with each being headed by a Regional Manager. All stores consist of Store Managers, Commercial Managers, Operational Managers, Lead Associates and Sales Associates. The most successful stores also have a General Manager.
Employees looking to work for BHS can expect the following bonuses and benefits: –
Financial – There is an individual annual discretionary bonus based upon the outcome of a performance review – something which also dictates the worker's level of pay for the forthcoming year.
Health – Private health insurance, optical and dental insurance packages are provided to managers.
Investment – A standard stakeholder pension operates for all employees.
Holidays – Amounts vary according to position and seniority however non-management jobs attract 22 days + and managerial jobs, 25+.
Perks – A company car and additional holiday may also be offered to managers. All staff may obtain discounts in-store and also at selected hotels etc.
Something unusual about BHS in comparison to other retail stores is that it expects individuals to negotiate and justify their own salary package. Correspondingly, since future benefits are generally calculated as an increase on the employee's 'current' benefits, it is prudent (for more reasons than one) to negotiate the best deal possible at the time of recruitment.