New BHS boss Darren Topp pledges a 'rightful' return to high streets

The retailer is piloting Claire’s accessories concessions in six stores to complement its Tammy pre-teen fashion range

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The Independent Online

The new boss of BHS has pledged to return the troubled 87-year-old retailer to its “rightful place” on the high street and backed the chain’s new owners.

Darren Topp has vowed to boost performance at the loss-making company, through a series of tie-ups with other retailers. He was promoted to permanent chief executive last month after BHS was sold for £1 by Sir Philip Green to a little-known group called Retail Acquisitions, prompting concerns about the future of the company.

The retailer is piloting Claire’s accessories concessions in six stores to complement its Tammy pre-teen fashion range, and plans to roll this out to 50 shops.

It has also agreed a deal with Debenhams to sell BHS lighting at two of its stores and hopes to increase the number to 20.

Talks are also under way for new cosmetics and perfumes concessions.

The initiatives to woo customers are the latest avenues the group is exploring. Most recently it signed two new food contracts with wholesaler Booker Group and food service provider Compass. The deals will significantly boost its convenience food choices, and revamp operations at its cafés.

Since the BHS purchase, the company has started a property review, which could include some closures but the firm added that it may open new shops.

Mr Topp revealed that as part of the sale, he and nine other board members took a stake in the business. “By making us part of the ownership, Retail Acquisitions is sending a clear message that it shares our vision,” he said.

Mr Topp praised his former boss: “I learnt a hell of a lot [working for Sir Philip Green]; it’s been fun.” He also welcomed Retail Acquisitions board member Dominic Chappell, who has come under the media spotlight for his business past – including bankruptcy.

“I think Dominic has been a force for good in this business,” Mr Topp said. “Together this team can return BHS to its rightful place, as an iconic British high street brand.”

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