'Difficult' period for Bhs as profits fall 54%

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Billionaire retailer Philip Green today conceded that his Bhs chain had been through a "difficult" period after annual operating profits fell 54 per cent.

Mr Green, who did not pay himself a Bhs dividend for the second year running, said mistakes with ranges - particularly in womenswear - cost the business as like-for-like sales fell 7.1 per cent in the year to April 1.

Whilst trading conditions remained challenging, Mr Green said ranges had been improved for the current year, with recent sales offering encouragement.

Mr Green also owns the Topshop-to-Burton fashion empire Arcadia, which last year paid him £1.2 billion in dividends.

Bhs has fared less well in the past year, with total sales off 1.8 per cent at £860.5 million and operating profits down to £48.5 million from £105.2 million.

As well as lower sales, the problems with ranges put pressure on margins as the retailer was forced to mark down more stock.

Mr Green said of the Bhs performance: "The results for the last financial year are obviously disappointing."

He added: "This has been a difficult period for the business but I would like to thank all our staff for their hard work and our customers for their continued loyalty."